A Phoenix man has been convicted of 10 charges in connection with running a brothel under the disguise of a pornography studio, Maricopa County Superior Court officials said Friday.
William James Hartwell denied he was operating a brothel inside the space where his business operated, in an industrial area of Phoenix.
Instead, he claimed the business was an adult-film studio, where patrons could purchase studio time to produce pornographic videos and hire “models” provided by the business to perform in sex scenes.
Hartwell said the amateur moviemakers paid to rent cameras, lights, props and models to create their desired sex scenes. He said all payments were made to a front desk for the studio time.
Police and prosecutors, however, said that claim was little more than a front for what actually was going on: People were able to pay for women to have sex.
The jury found Hartwell guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal control of an enterprise, two counts of illegal control of an enterprise, one count of sexual assault, one count of pandering, one count of maintaining a house of prostitution, one count of receiving earnings of prostitution, one count of aggravated assault and one count of sex trafficking.
He was found not guilty of another sexual-assault count.
The sexual-assault charges stemmed from allegations that Hartwell attacked two women who worked at the business.
Court officials said the aggravation phase of the trial will take place prior to sentencing.
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