July 22, 1997 in Nation/World

Madam Charges Town With Police Cover-Up Ex-Prostitute Councilwoman Backs Up Her Story

Associated Press
 

A madam who owned a massage parlor stood up at a City Council meeting to accuse police of taking payoffs, buying sex from her girls and covering up two slayings.

Then a councilwoman stepped forward to back those allegations, saying she ought to know: She had worked as a prostitute at the massage parlor for about two years.

Now, people are calling for Patty Belew’s resignation or removal from office. But she said Monday she’s staying put to keep this little town honest.

“There ain’t nobody else in there that’s any better than I am,” said Belew, 26. “At least I did come out and tell the truth, unlike everybody else.”

This town of nearly 3,000 people on the Tennessee line has been reeling since Tammy Papler, the former owner of the New Life Massage Parlor, stood up last week and accused city officials and police of taking bribes to allow her to run her business as a brothel.

Papler said she paid officials about $20,000 in bribes over three years. The authorities also bought sex, threatened prostitutes and covered up the 1994 slayings of two of her employees, Gloria Ross, 18, and Candy Belt, 22, Papler claims.

In September 1994, Ross and Belt were found stabbed and shot to death. No one has been charged in their deaths, and Papler alleges that two former Oak Grove police officers were involved.

Sheriff’s Maj. Billy Gloyd said both men, who have left the force, have been investigated in connection with the deaths.

Belew also said policemen from nearby Hopkinsville, the Christian County seat, were among her customers.

“You want to be disgusted and disgraced, let a police officer come in, because they will damn sure rub it in your face and treat you like trash,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

City Attorney Mike Burman, who advised Belew to step down, declined to comment Monday.

Belew said she doesn’t understand why she is being pressured to step down now because most of the town’s residents knew about her past when they elected her.

Papler, who owns an adult video store, said she had kept quiet until now because she had been on probation for prostitution-related charges.

She filed a complaint with the city on Friday citing her allegations.

Papler, 31, said she has several canceled checks and receipts for “cleaning services” written in the names of several police officers. She said the payments were bribes.

Belew said she went into prostitution to support her two children. At one point, she said, she was taking home about $1,500 a week.

“I wish many times over again I didn’t have to do it,” she said. “Nobody has any idea how disgusting, how cheap it makes you feel.”

She said she avoided taking customers from tiny Oak Grove because her husband grew up there.

Belew said going public has been painful, but she knew this might happen when she took office seven months ago.

“They need straight people in there,” she said. “I’m tired of the crooks.”

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email