The Fridley Police Department's undercover prostitution detail on Feb. 19 at the LivInn Hotel resulted in the arrests of 19 men—including one with a leadership position at a private school in Stillwater.
A member of St. Croix Catholic School’s Board of Directors was arrested during a prostitution sting on Feb. 19 for allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover police officer.
Thomas Allen Houle, 46, of Stillwater, was one of 19 men charged with misdemeanors on the second day of a two-day police operation. The case remains under investigation.
Stillwater Patch brought Houle's case to light Thursday, less than a week after Fridley Patch identified another of the arrested men as Mark Mauer, head football coach at another private east metro school: Hill-Murray in Maplewood. Mauer resigned on Tuesday.
Houle was listed at the school's website as a member of the Board of Directors at St. Croix Catholic on Thursday morning, but it no longer appears there. He is also listed as being a coach of a youth girls softball team for the St. Paul Catholic Athletic Association.
Calls placed to Houle requesting comment have not yet been returned.
St. Croix Catholic’s Development Director, Camille Kiolbasa, said the school is aware of a “matter that is under investigation,” and referred all questions to the Fridley Police Department.
St. Croix Catholic School is governed by the Board of Directors, according to the school’s student and parent handbook, and “has the power and authority for the operation of the school and the power to specify any duties and obligations to be carried out by various committees and subcommittees.”
The Board of Directors is appointed by, and works in partnership with, the principal and the canonical administrator “to ensure Catholic identity, superior academics, sound governance and financial stability,” the school’s website states.
According to Fridley police:
On Feb. 19, Houle responded to an ad police placed in the escort section of the website backpage.com. The undercover officer — posing as an escort — answered a phone call from a man identifying himself as “Tom,” who allegedly asked the officer how much she charged for one hour, to which the officer allegedly replied $150.
Houle then allegedly asked if the “escort” was a member of any type of law enforcement, the report states. The undercover cop replied, she was not — and Houle then allegedly agreed to pay $150 for one hour.
Just after 1:15 p.m., Houle arrived at the LivInn Hotel, where the undercover cop escorted him to a room with video and audio surveillance, the report states.
Once inside the room, the police officer reportedly asked Houle what he was looking for, when “he became nervous and told me he was going to leave,” the report states. “When I asked why he was leaving, he stated he was leaving because I was talking like a cop.”
Houle then allegedly asked the undercover officer to prove she was not a cop.
”When I asked what I needed to do, he asked to grab my breast,” the report states. Houle allegedly agreed to pay for sex, and asked once again, if the “escort” was a police officer.
“I told him again that I wasn’t,” the report states. “He then gave me $150 in cash I requested, plus a $50 tip.”
That’s when Fridley police rushed in and made the arrest.
When conducting a “prostitution detail,” police find that people from all walks of life respond to the ads seeking money for sex, Lt. Mike Monsrud of the Fridley Police Department said.
“We see everyone from professionals and executives to the unemployed responding to these ads,” Monsrud said. “In this case we had people responding to the ad from as far away as Stillwater and Woodbury to Delano and Cedar.”
Police refer to the operation as a “prostitution detail,” not a “sting,” Monsrud said. If someone asks an undercover officer if she is a cop during a prostitution detail, she is not required to say yes.
“This is not entrapment,” he said. “We place an ad — just like the hundreds of others on these websites — offering money for sex. We didn’t make them call us in response to the ad. We didn’t make them call a second time to confirm where the act would take place. We didn’t make them call a third time to be let into the room. And we didn’t make them ask for sex. We did nothing to make them do this — we don’t believe this is entrapment at all, and there has been a court precedent set backing us up on that.”