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Program gives people caught paying for sex in Palm Beach County a second chance

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 19:10:24-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A few times a month a room at the West Palm Beach Police Department fills up with people in search of a second chance.

"I'm not proud of it, but when you play you pay," one man said.

There were 24 men and 2 women who showed up to the course, Friday. Organizers say it's designed to change their lives.

"Well I was arrested for solicitation for prostitution over on Dixie Highway," a man said.

It's called PIPE which stands for prostitution impact prevention and education. West Palm Beach resident Gail Levine founded the program 19 years ago when she started to see people soliciting sex in her neighborhood.

"Some of these gals have been in mental chains for years," she said.

Now, this court appointed program offers first-time offenders in Palm Beach County a clean slate once they complete the 5-hour course.

A man named Bill says he was caught after trying to pay for sex from an undercover cop.

"Just like a drug addict I have to stay away from women because that's my addiction," he said.

Bill admits it wasn't his first time.

"I've never had a gun pulled on me but I've heard some of the girls were pistol-whipped," he said. "I hear them talk about that."

Becky Dymond a sex trafficking counselor and founder of the Hepzibah House said that's not an uncommon story.

"Traffickers will go to places where women are selling themselves and move in on them," Dymond said. "So if there was not money exchanging hands if there was no demand it wouldn't happen. The traffickers are entrepreneurs they're looking on how to turn a buck as easily as possible and so the "Johns" are really the critical piece."

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