SYRACUSE, Utah — A police raid of a live sex show at a movie theater has led to six arrests and stunned residents of a family-oriented Utah town.
Three women and a man were booked on misdemeanor charges of sexual solicitation after allegedly engaging in sex acts early Thursday inside the Syracuse 6 Movie Theater in Syracuse, 25 miles north of Salt Lake City, police said.
A janitor for a company contracted to clean the theater organized the show to make money, investigators said, and planned to charge from $35 to $75 for admission depending on whether someone wanted to just watch or participate.
Anael Ibeanez, 36, of Bountiful, is accused of using Craigslist ads to recruit people to engage in acts of prostitution as well as to publicize the show. He was arrested on felony charges of exploiting prostitution and distributing pornography.
“I have never heard anything like it,” Police Chief Garret Atkin told KSL. “He was charging a fee based on where they wanted to sit and what role they wanted to play (in the show).”
The raid was conducted after police received a tip that a live sex show would be performed shortly after midnight Wednesday at the theater and just as the performance was starting.
While Ibeanez told officers that 50 men confirmed they would show up, only one man was watching the show at the time. He was arrested for investigation of sexual solicitation.
“For me to make a comment on what these people were thinking, it would be purely speculative,” police Sgt. Lance Call told The Associated Press.
It was an unlikely venue for a live sex show — a theater at a strip mall in a town of 24,000 that’s billed as a “safe, family-oriented community” on the city’s website.
“It was kind of a shock in moral-majority Syracuse,” joked Mario Reyes, who was buying tickets Friday to the action movie Fast & Furious 6 with his son. “But I guess it can happen anywhere.”
Another theater-goer likened the janitor’s sex show to a Pee-wee Herman-style scandal, invoking the child-like actor’s 1991 arrest for indecent exposure at an adult-movie theater in Sarasota, Fla.
“We laughed hard about it,” said Air Force Sgt. Norman Startzel, 36, who was buying tickets to the cartoon movie Epic for his wife and two young children. “Definitely kind of underhanded and disgusting — a live sex show makes you wonder about taking one of those seats. I hope they cleaned up afterward.”
The three women arrested were Krystle Morales, 21, and Lillian Scott, 22, both of Salt Lake City, and Shelby Boyce, 21, of West Valley City. Troy Manning, 33, of Centerville, also was arrested on suspicion of taking part in the performance.
The suspects had unlisted phone numbers, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys.
Police said the movie theater’s management did not know about the show until contacted about it.
John Shorba, vice president of operations for Minnesota-based United Entertainment Corp., which owns Syracuse 6, said the company was stunned by the incident.
“We are a family-owned company and of course do not condone actions like this,” he said in an email to Ogden’s Standard-Examiner. “None of our employees were involved nor had any knowledge of this incident. We would like to thank law enforcement and the tipster for acting quickly to put a stop to it.”