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Originally published June 17, 2011 at 9:20 PM | Page modified June 18, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Ex-UW basketball player charged with promoting prostitution

Former University of Washington basketball player Venoy Overton was charged Friday with second-degree promoting prostitution, a felony that's punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes Venoy never had a realistic shot at the NBA, but probably could have played in Europe. ... Read more
quotes They should nail him for fraud also. He will never see a penny of NBA money. Ten... Read more
quotes This has to be one of the saddest stories I've read in a long time. It breaks my heart... Read more

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Former University of Washington basketball player Venoy Overton promised an 18-year-old woman that he'd repay any money she made working as a prostitute "tenfold" after he was drafted by the NBA, according to a criminal charge filed Friday by King County prosecutors.

But that felony charge — second-degree promoting prostitution — could short-circuit any professional aspirations the one-time Husky point guard may be harboring after a scandal-marred senior season.

The felony charge, which stems from a monthlong investigation, is punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Overton, 22, is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail pending his June 30 arraignment.

Overton, who made headlines earlier this year when he avoided prosecution after a sexual tryst with two teenage girls, was arrested Thursday in South Seattle.

According to the charging documents, Overton offered the woman detailed instructions on how to work as a prostitute by walking "the track" on Pacific Highway South. He drove the woman to Kent, told her how to walk, what prices to charge and how many tricks to turn before calling him to pick her up, according to the charges.

The woman worked as a prostitute in South King County for three nights last month. She split her money with Overton, who celebrated her first earnings by buying a cigar and filling the tank of his 1995 "UW purple" Chevrolet Caprice, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell wrote in the charging documents.

Kent police launched the investigation after the woman was arrested May 20 after offering to perform a sex act on an undercover officer for $200.

She told police that working as a prostitute was "one of the most degrading things she has ever experienced" but claimed she was strapped for cash and agreed to do it for Overton, whom she considered her boyfriend.

The woman told police that she was required to turn over half her earnings to Overton, the charges say.

Even before the woman agreed to work as a prostitute, Overton had demanded that she give him money, according to the charges. After his arrest Thursday, he allegedly told police that after he met the woman for the first time he told her "if you want to talk to me you gotta give me some money or something."

Overton denied that the woman was his girlfriend but told police that in the months they knew each other she paid him about $3,000, the documents say.

The woman told police she called Overton in tears on May 18 and explained that she was broke, and that his response was "You're gonna try walking," according to the charges.

That night, Overton drove the woman to Pacific Highway South, an area known to be frequented by prostitutes, and instructed her on what to do. The woman told police that she was terrified and didn't think anyone would find her attractive.

The following night, Overton drove the woman back to the same area and told her to "walk slow and sexy," charges said. The woman told police that she was soon picked up and was paid $200 for sex — money she split with Overton.

They returned to the same area the following night and Overton instructed the woman that she had to turn two tricks before calling for him to pick her up, charging paperwork said. But the woman was arrested that night.

The woman insisted that she loved Overton, according to the charges. She said that he repeatedly promised that they would be financially secure once a National Basketball Association (NBA) team drafted him.

Overton, a 6-foot point guard who was one of the Huskies' top defensive players, is not considered an NBA prospect.

Prosecutors said they do not plan to charge her.

Overton told police it was the woman's idea to work as a prostitute, but he said he agreed to drive her to Kent because he knew she would pay him part of her earnings, according to charges.

"I'm not going to turn down money from a girl," Overton allegedly told police.

In January, police investigated Overton 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.

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar suspended Overton for the Pac-10 Conference tournament but allowed him to play in the NCAA tournament.

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, as well as questions about the girl's account and contradictory statements from witnesses.

Overton reached an agreement with the Seattle City Attorney's Office, which said it would dismiss the charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor if he stayed out of trouble for a year. The charges filed Friday could put that agreement in jeopardy.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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