5 bikini baristas charged with prostitution

5 bikini baristas charged with prostitution
EVERETT, Wash. -- Five baristas at a local bikini coffee stand are accused of engaging in prostitution while on the clock.

Police spokesman Robert Goetz said the five employees of Grab-N-Go Espresso were charged with prostitution and violating the city's adult entertainment ordinance following a two-month undercover investigation.

Goetz said no sex was involved, but the women, ages 18 to 24, are accused of groping and other sexual acts, including exposing their breasts and privates and licking whipped cream off of each other in exchange for money.

"The evidence is pretty clear," he said. "Baring their breasts and pulling down their underwear or bikinis, exposing their entire bodies, in some cases."

Police launched the investigation after receiving some 40 complaints regarding bikini baristas' allegedly lewd behavior.

"We hardly believed what we were hearing. (It) wasn't until we started our investigation (that we learned) our citizens were right on," said Goetz.

The women are expected to be arraigned in municipal court in the upcoming weeks. Because the charges are misdemeanors, the women have not been taken into custody and the coffee stand remains open.

On Thursday morning, the stand's owner, Bill Wheeler, said the charges are false.

"What this is this is a witch hunt. They want to pass a city ordinance on bikinis, so they had to come up with something to help pass that rule," he said.

The Everett City Council is considering a tougher lewd behavior ordinance. Talks began after the city received some 50 complaints in the past six months about some local bikini baristas.

Wheeler said he is not hiring baristas to sell sex.

"We're hiring baristas to sell coffee. It has nothing to do with sex whatsoever. They're cute. They wear bikinis. That's as far as they're allowed to go," he said.

Wheeler said two of the five baristas were fired before the allegations surfaced because they had violated company policy. He did not elaborate the two women's behavior.