Halting john sweeps no help to sex addicts: Counsellor



TORONTO -- The decision by Toronto Police to stop john sweeps means men "addicted" to having sex with hookers will not get the help they need, says the co-ordinator of a prostitution diversion program.

John Fenn runs the Toronto John School, a day-long class that teaches busted johns the hazards of prostitution.

He said Monday his class sizes have shrunk to almost zero since police stopped dispatching female officers to pose as prostitutes as a way of catching men looking to buy sex on the street.

"It doesn't allow me to educate them on the implications of prostitution," Fenn said. "There's all kinds of sh-- that goes on out there that nobody even hears about ... I give them the whole perspective so they can make healthier choices."

Police officials confirmed Sunday that Toronto's finest have placed john sweeps on hold following a court rulings that struck down several prostitution laws.

Most recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last March that the prohibition of keeping a brothel and living off the avails of prostitution are unconstitutional. The court determined, however, that communicating for the purposes of prostitution should remain illegal.

The matter is now headed to the Supreme Court of Canada for a final decision.

Fenn said his john school, which is offered as an alternative to a conviction for trying to buy sex, is currently counselling three men, but normally sees up to 60 at this time of year.

Students, he said, include those who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases, had their finances and marriages destroyed, and have even been beaten by pimps.
One former student, Fen said, had spent $75,000 in one year on street sex.

But there is an upside -- only 2% of Fenn's graduates reoffend.

"I try to show them things can happen to you when you're out there doing that, which can turn out to be not so favourable for you and your family. So many guys say, 'I wish I hadn't'."

The Toronto John School uses various guest lecturers to get its point across, including a Crown lawyer, a police officer, a health official, an ex-hooker, a former john and the ex-wife of a john.

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