Free Nels

Free Nels: I consider myself a big fan of Nashville’s finest, but something is amiss in the Department, I fear. With another display of the ineptitude that led one of their ranks to use Keystone Cops procedures in busting an NFL Player of the Year for DUI — a case that was thrown out on the grounds of officer wackiness, Nashville Police have arrested a 29-year-old ad salesman for the weekly alternative newspaper, Nashville Scene (owned by the company that publishes the Village Voice and several other alt-weeklies).

Nels Noseworthy (perhaps they should arrest his parents) was arrested on charges that he accepted payment for escort service advertisements in the Scene that police say were purchased to promote prostitution. Huh?

Here’s a quote from the Scene’s website’s “response”

A 29-year-old Nashville Scene employee, Nels Noseworthy, was handcuffed, arrested and hastily escorted without notice from his job at this alt-weekly newspaper today on charges that he accepted payment for advertisements in the Scene that police say were purchased to promote prostitution.

The Scene promptly sent an attorney to bail out Noseworthy, who’s been a loyal employee at the Scene since Nov. 12, 2001. And Scene publisher Albie Del Favero quickly responded to the six-count indictment by saying Noseworthy should not have been targeted.

“Instead of coming after me or another manager, [the police] went after an innocent employee trying to do his job,” says publisher Albie Del Favero (rex disclosure: my friend). “Rest assured we will vigorously defend our advertising policies.”

Del Favero points out that Scene advertising employees are explicitly instructed to ensure that their clients have business licenses and are legitimate operations. Copies of those business licenses are kept on file at the Scene offices.

On the surface this sounds like a ridiculous waste of police resources and tax payer’s money. What possibly can happen from this but another embarassing loss in court…if it makes it that far?

Update: According to a report by Nashville’s News Channel 5, the bust came after a “year-long investigation,” police said. (A year long investigation? Man, that is scary: having the leadership of ones hometown law enforcement agency decide to burn the resources necessary for a year-long investigation of escort service adverrtising sales practices.) According the TV news report, “During the investigation undercover police officers placed adult ads in the Nashville Scene. The undercover officers made it clear the ads ‘were intended to solicit business for illegal prostitution,’ a police statement said. Undercover officers placed more than 30 ads in all, police said. (30? Why 30? Why not bust him after one?) The police department tried to meet with Nashville Scene managers to discuss the ads but the paper’s management declined to meet, police said.


Update II: WKRN-TV report.

  • Hudge

    As a former Nashville newshound, I can aver that busting escort services, like busting numbers operators, is one of those Halley’s comet kind of deals that come around regularly. Some years back, another chief was embarrassed into action when it was revealed by a local TV station that an allegedly notorious service had a phone listing adjacent to one of the sheriff’s department numbers in the phone book. They did not bust the phone book company for taking the money, though. One wonders – did the cops not have enough evidence to charge the escort services placing the ads, or is that phase 2, after they place 30 more ads? The First Amendment overtones of this are ringing pretty loudly – I hope an organization I belong to will become involved .

  • rex

    Omigod, Bill. Do you actually carry a card? But you’re point about the Yellow Pages is spot on. What about the billboards all over town for adult establishments. If illicit activities take place at one of those locations, is the outdoor advertising company a conspirator? I guess, goes this logic revealed in the story, if the outdoor advertising company knows what actually is taking place at the establishment.

  • Hudge

    I not only have a card and carry it – amazing what a conversation starter it is – I have a decal on my office window declaring that I do.
    The report I saw this morning had fellow former newsie Don Aaron, now flack for the PD, asserting that the officers ran this as a sting – he says they made it completely clear to the guy that the services offered included sex. I guess in the future, it will be don’t ask, don’t tell? Maybe ad sales people should all be named Sgt. Schultz.

  • rex

    The article also points out that this week’s Scene award to the Police chief’s son a Boner award for two DUIs. Coincidence? Or complete lack of comprehension about the obvious conclusions one draws when seeing this tit-for-tat move.

  • BS

    I recall as a Freshman in college becoming bored late one night. Along with some friends, all from northeastern states and who knew of Nashville’s reputation as a North American Bangkok for its sex industry, we decided to investigate. The first place we looked was the Nashville Scene for the address of a well known establishment that a former co-worker (summer job in high school) of mine claimed he once patronized. Once there, we were able to get the names of dozens of other nearby establishments, all of which we visited. We asked their staff about the “services” and they all but admitted they ran brothels. In a couple hours, four college students did what took Metro Vice Squad years to do several years later. The best part? An off-duty (but uniformed) Metro Police officer was running security at one of the bigger establishments!

    Don’t worry, no money changed hands.

  • rex

    BS raises a good — and obvious — point. (Except for that Bangkok comment — Music City? Athens of the South? Buckle of the Bible Belt? North American Bankok? The list keeps growing.) Why would the Metro Police want to blow their best lead generating tool for busting prostitution establishments? All they need to do is call up those services every week and arrange a visit to arrest them. It appears to me that the Metro vice squad may be killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

  • lcreekmo

    Lots of people are card-carrying members of the ACLU. As my favorite movie accurately points out, this is an organization devoted to protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    re: this case — smacks of ulterior motives from several directions. I guess in the end, it will go back to who knows what. Hope the paperwork is all in order….

  • rex

    I think I can trace back how this got to be a discussion of the ACLU, but I don’t necessarily equate ones devotion to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights to ones devotion to an organization that often appears to get hijacked often by its more flaky members.

  • bhudgins

    I know the movie to which Laura refers and its a favorite in the Gallatin branch of, and, having just audio-read a history of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, I’d just say that what appears flaky today may in 200-plus years be taken as forehead-slapping, duh!, obvious briliiance. For instance, a bicameral legislature, three branches of government and a president whose term is longer than a year.

  • lcreekmo

    Oh it TOTALLY ties in.

    Because the sickos in the KKK have just as much right to have a parade as anyone else…and someone has to make sure they can.

    Goes back to Voltaire’s quote:
    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  • Gaby

    Thank you for the info!