Former teacher arrested in child prostitution sting

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Jerry Marfe By Mike Gertzman Jerry Marfe By Mike Gertzman
John Wythe By Mike Gertzman John Wythe By Mike Gertzman
Raymond Cordero By Mike Gertzman Raymond Cordero By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Jerry Marfe, 54, showed up to a hotel room expecting to buy sex from a teen prostitute, according to officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

"How old are you?" He’s heard asking a woman on undercover surveillance video. 

"We’re both 16. My birthday is next week," she responded.

What’s even more shocking, the suspect admitted to being a teacher.

"I teach chemistry," he’s heard telling the woman.

Marfe did not know he was talking to an undercover cop and the entire interaction was captured on video.

Marfe is just one of 30 people MCSO arrested for suspicion of child prostitution, during a two week long undercover sting. 

3TV got a rare look inside the operation.

"So this is our undercover ad," described Captain Steve Bailey of MCSO Special Investigations Division.

The ad posted online generated non-stop phone calls to an undercover officer posing as a sixteen-year-old, and making her age clear to the potential "johns."

"Were you looking for a half hour, an hour, or what," she said during one part of a call.

If the man showed up to her hotel room, their interaction was caught by sheriff’s surveillance cameras, providing all the evidence they need on camera.

Another one of the high-profile suspects arrested was John Wythe, a convicted sex offender with a record out of Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Corrections tells 3TV Wythe served from 2000 to 2009 for a conviction of sexual assault of a child by a person of trust.

3TV could not find him on Arizona’s sex offender registry. MCSO detectives say they will look into whether he had registered in this state, as required.

During a video interaction with the undercover officer, he’s heard saying, "I’m nervous…it’s been a long time."

The more than two dozen people arrested will face charges of child prostitution, a class 2 felony, which could result in a minimum of seven years in prison if convicted.

"We thought we would get some arrests, I don’t think any of us really anticipated the volume of calls we would get and how there were so many people looking for underage girls," said Captain Steve Bailey.

3TV interviewed one of the men arrested who admitted he tried to buy sex because he was a virgin.

"It was just a fixation in my head," the unidentified man said. 

When asked why he tried to buy sex from a teenager, he said: "It was just the price, it was a lot cheaper than anyone else."