UPDATED, Thursday, June 30 at 12:10 p.m.: Sporting a bushy afro, thick beard, and an orange jumpsuit, Venoy Overton appeared in King County Superior court today and pleaded not guilty to charges that he pimped out his 18-year-old girlfriend. Judge Cheryl Carey also agreed to lower the ex-UW point guard's bail amount from $150,000 to $25,000, despite objections from prosecutors. According to a report from SeattlePI.com, Overton's attorney James Bible, the president of the Seattle King County NAACP, said during the hearing that the troubled basketball player "has an eagerness to address these charges."
Noting that his client is a part-time caretaker for his infant child, Bible told the court that Overton looks forward to facing the allegations against him. Bible also noted that Overton had recently graduated from UW, an event the defense attorney called "a stepping stone (for Overton), especially given the challenging circumstances under which he was raised."
Bible also reportedly said that he "has not yet had an opportunity to thoroughly review the evidence in the case or interview with the witnesses on which the prosecution's case rests."
If that's truly the case, Bible will soon learn that he has his work cut out for him. Kent police and King County prosecutors have compiled a seemingly airtight case against Overton, bolstered by cell-phone records and surveillance footage that corroborate the story told to police by his alleged victim. There's also Overton's own damning statements to police after he was arrested, in which the hoopster admitted that he drove the woman to an area on Pacific Highway South known for prostitution, then took part of her earnings at the end of the night.
See our original reports below for the full backstory.
UPDATED again on Friday, June 17 at 3:05 p.m., with court documents that detail the investigation that led to the charge
UPDATED, Friday, June 17, 2:08 p.m.: King County prosecutors have filed charges against Overton for "promoting prostitution." He remains in jail in Kent with bail set at $150,000. His next scheduled court appearance is an arraignment hearing on June 30. If convicted of the felony, Overton faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Troubled former University of Washington hoopster Venoy Overton was arrested around 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon in south Seattle by Kent police in connection with a weeks-long vice investigation, The Seattle Times reports. Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas confirmed the arrest with Seattle Weekly and said Overton will be charged tomorrow with promoting prostitution in the second degree, which is a Class C felony.
Thomas said that on May 20, Kent police detained an 18-year-old prostitute on Pacific Highway South.
According a press release from Kent Police:
While speaking with the woman, officers learned that she had been brought to the area by her boyfriend who directed her to perform acts of prostitution. She identified her boyfriend as Venoy Overton. The young woman also told officers that she had been given specific instructions of what sex acts to perform and what to charge, and had returned a portion of the money gained back to Overton. The woman further disclosed that she had been brought to the area to prostitute on two prior occasions.
Kent police also write that they have "additional evidence linking Overton to the crime."
Thomas was hesitant to discuss the situation in detail, saying "The case is still under some level of investigation . . . I don't want to jeopardize any potential evidence being lost by providing too much information too soon."
Overton is currently being held at the Kent Corrections Center.
Additional details will be released tomorrow when Overton is formally charged and police provide a probable-cause statement. Check back on The Daily Weekly for updates as more information becomes available.
This is not Overton's first run-in with the authorities. In January he was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl during an "orgy party" at his sister's apartment in the Central District. The 23-year-old Overton was never charged, and a Seattle police report that included transcripts of detectives' interviews with Overton, the girl, and two witnesses who were present during the encounter indicated that the sex was consensual.
Overton was, however, charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor. On March 31, a judge granted him a "dispositional continuance," allowing the charge to be dropped if Overton performs community service and is not charged with another crime in the next year. The latest arrest stands to ruin that arrangement.
Update: UW head basketball coach Lorenzo Romar has issued a statement regarding Overton's arrest: "I have been informed of the arrest of Venoy Overton and 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."
Court documents released today detail the investigation and evidence against Overton. It started at around 10 p.m. on May 20, when two undercover detectives spotted a young woman standing in the parking lot of a Chevron station on Pacific Highway S. She was wearing "tight black leggings, a black jacket and flat sandal type shoes," and talking to a man. The cops suspected she was a prostitute and set up a sting.
As the woman walked the nearby stretch of highway, known as "the track" by johns and hookers, according to the police, the plainclothes detectives invited her into their car. She offered sex for $200. The police outed themselves, and the woman spilled her guts.
She said that she'd only been "walking the track" for the past three nights. She said that Overton was her boyfriend, and that he pushed her to start selling herself on the streets "as a way to make easy money." She told the detectives that she first met Overton in September 2010, but didn't start dating him until around Thanksgiving of that year. Police obtained Overton's cell phone records and confirmed that the couple frequently traded calls and texts.
The woman, whose name is being withheld by police and prosecutors, reportedly said that on May 18, 2011 she "called Overton crying" because she wasn't making enough money at her part time job." She claimed that she gave Overton, who is unemployed, half of her earnings. Overton, in turn, allegedly promised to "take care of her once he made it to the NBA."
The woman said that on the night of the 18th, Overton drove her to the Chevron station in a "'UW purple' colored Chevy caprice with rims and tinted windows." He allegedly schooled her on the "going rates" for prostitutes, told her to get the cash from her johns up front, to "walk slow and sexy" and to watch out for undercover police.
The woman told police she was "scared shitless" about the whole thing, but went along with it after Overton reassured her that, "she just needed to get that first trick out of the way and it will get easier." Overton also allegedly said that, "he would do it for her if he could."
After servicing her first john for $200, Overton reportedly "told her good job and that he was proud of her." She said that she handed over half of her earnings, and Overton used the money to fill up his gas tank and buy a cigar. Police obtained surveillance footage from the gas station and it shows Overton buying a cigar on the night in question.
The woman also allowed police to examine her cell phone. The officers found several damning texts from Overton. In one exchange, the woman sent a message to Overton saying, "This is scary shit," to which Overton replied, "Ya bout [sic] you got the mouth for it." On another occaison, when she didn't want to get out of the car, the woman told police Overton said, "Bitch just get out there and see if you can make some money."
When Overton was arrested yesterday afternoon, he initially denied that the woman was his girlfriend. Instead, he said in a recorded statement that she was "in love with him and probably believed" that she was his girlfriend. He described how she routinely gave him money because the first time they met he said to her, "If you wanna talk to me you gotta give me some money or something." Overton said the woman routinely gives him cash, and had handed over nearly $3,000 over the course of their relationship because "he would ask for it and complain."
He also claimed it was the woman's idea to become a hooker. He merely advised her of "a hot track" where she'd find johns, and gave her a lift. The money she gave him after turning her first trick was for gas and the ride.
Overton, the report says, "told us he knew that he was wrong and stated he screwed up." Asked why he did it, Overton reportedly replied, "I'm not gonna turn down money from a girl."
Read the whole thing here: