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Originally published June 16, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Page modified June 16, 2011 at 10:33 PM

Former UW guard Venoy Overton arrested for investigation of felony promoting prostitution

Former Washington basketball player Venoy Overton was arrested Thursday and booked into jail for investigation of felony promoting prostitution, according to Kent police.

Seattle Times staff reporters

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Former Washington basketball player Venoy Overton was arrested Thursday and booked into jail for investigation of felony promoting prostitution, according to Kent police.

Overton's arrest stems from an investigation that began in May after Kent officers questioned an 18-year-old woman for what police called "prostitution activity" on Pacific Highway South, according to Lt. Pat Lowery. The woman told officers that she had been brought to the area by her boyfriend, who gave her specifics about what sorts of sex acts to perform and what to charge for them.

Lowery said the woman identified her boyfriend as Overton.

The woman also told police that she was required to give Overton some of the money she made, Lowery said. She also said she had been brought to the area to prostitute on two prior occasions, he said.

Lowery said additional information linked Overton to the crime, but he did not elaborate. Overton was booked into the Kent jail and likely will appear in court on Friday.

Overton's arrest in South Seattle is his second run-in with the law this year.

In January, he was investigated by police after he had sex with two 16-year-old girls he met online. After a two-month investigation, he was charged with providing alcohol to a minor, a gross misdemeanor.

A call made to Mike Hunsinger, Overton's attorney in the earlier case, was not returned Thursday. It's unclear whether he's representing Overton in the Kent case.

Overton's arrest puts in jeopardy a plea agreement in the earlier case, in which the Seattle City Attorney's Office dismissed the charge if the 22-year-old Overton stayed out of trouble for a year. Seattle City Attorney's spokeswoman Kimberly Mills said her office would revisit the case if Overton is convicted in the prostitution case.

"We could ask for him to serve jail time for that case," she said Thursday.

Overton graduated earlier this month from the UW.

In the earlier case, Seattle police say Overton met with the two girls on Jan. 8 and took them to his sister's apartment in South Seattle. Police said Overton furnished the girls with alcohol and had sex with both.

Police launched an investigation after one of the girls told police she felt pressured to have sex with Overton because he was a UW basketball player.

King County prosecutors declined to file charges against him in connection with the alleged sex acts, citing Washington's age of consent, which is 16, questions about the girl's account and contradictory statements from witnesses.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor called the case "highly problematic" because the girl participated in sex acts under "situational pressure." State law, Spoor wrote, "places the burden on the victim to clearly communicate a lack of consent to the suspect, which she did not do."

Following the Jan. 8 incident, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar suspended Overton for the Pac-10 Conference tournament, but allowed him to play in the NCAA tournament. The career of the 6-foot guard, who ranks in the UW's top five in career assists, steals and games played, ended with a loss to North Carolina on March 20.

In March, Overton said he had learned a lesson and expressed gratitude that he was able to finish the season in uniform.

"You never know what's out there and what people's intentions are," Overton said in an interview with The Times. "You have to be careful."

On Thursday, Romar issued this statement on Overton's arrest: "I am extremely disappointed. My staff and I spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy attempting to mentor Venoy prior to his recent graduation, so this news is especially troubling."

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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