Prostitutes given voice in book targeting pimps

Chris Baughman is a Las Vegas detective embroiled in a war waged against pimps victimizing women, but it's not enough for him.

Armed with front-line experience, Baughman began writing after 12- to 14-hour shifts with the Metropolitan Police Department's pandering investigative team about three years ago.

The result was the 36-year-old's journey to incarcerating Anthony Smith, a violent pimp convicted of beating a woman with a baseball bat over a two-day period , and coping with the people caught in the wake of his wrath. Baughman said he's just shining a flashlight onto a larger issue.

"It's really a window into what's really happening that people don't understand," Baughman said. "When people hear the word 'prostitute,' they think it's her choice. What I find is that's not the truth."

The nonfiction book, "Off the Street: Prostitution is not a victimless crime," is slated to hit bookstores Sept. 1. Baughman has caught national attention as national broadcasting companies and the New York Times have pieces in waiting on him.

The publication is Baughman's foray into writing, and California-based Behler Publications signed him for a three-book deal.

His humble beginnings and a traumatic event when he was 12 led him to target men who abuse and traffic women.

"I'm just a guy from the 'hood who didn't have college or special training," he said. "We lived in some pretty tough neighborhoods. I got indoctrinated in the pimp culture and the gang culture, but I never joined because I didn't want to disappoint my mom or my dad."

Baughman was present when his friend's mother was beaten by a man later found to be a pimp.

"We were in the house playing when the guy kicked in the door," he said. "It was just us throwing rocks at this guy while he beat her. Needless to say, I gained a strong dislike for these kinds of guys."

He joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 1999 and was moved up to his current team in part because of his expertise with the pimp culture. He is in a trio that targets violent and wealthier pimps in Las Vegas and provides aid to their victims.

They also speak at educational events, such as conferences, and even to women's groups about reading into pimp s' criminal minds and avoiding their recruiting tactics.

Las Vegas is "Ground Zero," he said, for pimps to prosper. The good climate, a wealthy client group and impressionable young women all draw pimps to the area.

"They're targeting John and Jane Doe's daughter," he said. "It's not like this is a job. It's very personal."

Baughman reached an end about two years ago when a pimp tried to ruin a wealthy veterinarian's practice and draw her into the lifestyle. The case was his last straw, he said.

Baughman told one of his partners about his plans to bring some of their experiences to the literary arena.

"I told him I felt like I wasn't doing enough and I wanted to do more," he said. "I said, 'Hey, I'm going to write a book.' "

Lynn Price, editorial director for Behler Publications, said she was immediately impressed by Baughman's story and his work "cutting off the head of the beast."

"He's such an amazing person, and I felt it came through in his work," she said. "To find out he came from the same streets of the people he's arresting, I thought that was a compelling story. He could have been one of them."

Price said "Off the Street " has international appeal.

"I wanted his message to go out to America and Canada and all around the world," she said. "Human slavery is a big issue. He is obviously doing something far different than anyone else."

Baughman is nearly finished with his second book and busy with ongoing investigations and speaking engagements.

He hopes one day to open a facility for victims, a sanctuary from the hell from which they've been rescued.

In the meantime, he's calling for everyone to help ease his plight by removing the word "pimp" from pop culture and everyday topics.

"Any time we can hear the word 'pimp' in a kid's show, we have an issue," he said. "We've let our guard down on to what they are. I feel like it's important for us, as a country, if we're going to stand up and fight these people, we need to do it together."

For more information or to arrange a personal appearance with Baughman, contact Brian Rouff of Imagine Marketing of Nevada at 837-8996.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.