Legislators, Police Alleged To Be Among Prostitution Ring's Clients
State legislators and police officers were allegedly among the customers of a sprawling Frankfort prostitution ring, according to court documents.
The public officials allegedly patronized prostitutes through a private security business run by Thomas Banta, a former Franklin County constable.
The document does not identify any legislators or police officers. The Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Banta, 67, and an associate were indicted in Franklin County Circuit Court earlier this month on prostitution-related charges, including kidnapping and impersonating an officer. Newly released investigative documents include additional witness statements that provide a broader portrait of the alleged prostitution ring.
In an interview earlier this year with police, one woman recounted how she had applied for a job at Banta Security and Investigations. Banta sought to have her work as a prostitute and boasted of "upscale" married men -- legislators and police officers -- who "wanted some excitement on the side" and paid for sex, according to a supplemental police report. The woman, whose name is redacted in the document, told police she had financial troubles and weighed the offer.
Banta allegedly drove her and another person to meet a client in a home on U.S. 127. There, she found the client to be "physically repulsive and left before completing the transaction,” the report notes.
Another woman told police she had sex with a client in the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort for $500 and later saw the same man on television.
A different woman claimed Banta sought her to fulfill a client's request to have sex with a dog for $500, the documents show. Numerous women said they were required to have sex with Banta without pay, and several said they were threatened with retaliation if they spoke to police.
One woman told police that one of Banta’s prostitutes was a female student at Western Hills High School. Other alleged prostitutes were students at Kentucky State University.
In all, investigators conducted more than 25 interviews as part of the investigation.
Banta served as one of six Franklin County elected constables from 2011-2014, and also ran his own private security firm, Banta’s Security and Investigation LLC.
Banta could not be reached for comment. His telephone is no longer accepting calls.
Banta's former co-worker and now co-defendant, Hendra “Dre” Chanault Valentine, said Tuesday that he was not personally involved in any alleged prostitution ring and did not know about any legislators or police officers who may have been clients. He declined further comment.
KyCIR contacted legislative leaders for comment on the allegation that public officials may be involved. State Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo did not return calls.
Will Wright, KyCIR's summer fellow, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (724) 344.6945. Reporter R.G. Dunlop contributed to this report.