Woman charged with running prostitution business awaits verdict

Closing arguments were presented to a 12-person Kenai Superior Court Jury Monday in a case seeking to convict a woman on prostitution charges and seven counts of various sex trafficking crimes.


The state alleges Karen L. Carpenter, 50, ran a business and induced two other women to perform sexual acts for money, of which she received a payment cut.

The seven counts of sex trafficking include; inducing a person younger than 20 to engage in prostitution; running a prostitution enterprise; soliciting a patron for prostitution; running a place of prostitution; inducing a person over 20 to engage in prostitution; accepting proceeds derived from prostitution and facilitating a prostitution enterprise.

All counts, including the prostitution charge, are felony charges.

Assistant District Attorney Angela Garay said Carpenter ran the business based on evidence that she paid the bills, made the appointments and bought the supplies. The state also alleges Carpenter placed advertisements for her business, Gifted Hands, online and received cuts of money from each appointment.

Garay told the jury Carpenter caused two women, Madison Murrieta, 19 at the time of the investigation, and Jonah Lange, 20 at the time of the investigation, to become prostitutes.

“Ms. Carpenter brought (Murrieta) into her business and provided everything she needed to have sex for money,” Garay said. … “Ms. Carpenter caused her to be a prostitute, induced her to be a prostitute. That’s not what she was doing before. Before she was working at Wal-Mart.”

Lange previously worked with animals and would not have broken the law if it had not been for Carpenter’s influence, Garay said.

Lange testified against Carpenter at the trial. Murrieta did not testify in the case.

“Because (Murrieta) didn’t testify, we don’t know what caused her to engage in prostitution if she did that,” William Taylor, public defender for Carpenter said. “For all (the jury knows) Ms. Murrieta had been engaging in prostitution for years.

According to a complaint filed by Kenai Police, Carpenter informed an undercover officer her business provided massages and companionship packages. According to police, clients could decide how to spend their companionship purchased time — including engaging in various types of sexual activities.

“(The jury has) heard how naive Karen Carpenter is,” Carpenter’s public defender William Taylor said. “Karen is not a pimp. … She thought that by saying you’re only paying for my time and not sexual contact got her around the prostitution laws.”

Taylor said Carpenter did not change her prices based on different sexual acts.

“This is not a naive person,” Garay said. “This is a person who is scheming to get around the law. Ignorance of the law is no defense. … She was scheming to get around being caught. … She thought that this little language about not paying for the sex acts, just paying for time, this was her scheme to cover up to get away with what she’d been doing.”

Two other women were charged with prostitution in relation to this case.

Lange pleaded guilty and accepted a plea agreement with the state on May 29, part of the deal was that Lange testify against Carpenter. Murrieta is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 15. Both are out of custody.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.