Santa Rosa mother and son suspected of pimping seek defense attorney
The tip came to Rohnert Park Police late last year: A property manager believed there was a brothel in the 4000 block of Snyder Lane. A similar but separate call was made even earlier to Santa Rosa Police about a different house in the 2300 block of Alvarado Avenue.
Rohnert Park police said they uncovered at least three brothels — two in Santa Rosa and one in Rohnert Park — and a front business in Rohnert Park during a Jan. 26 undercover operation when they arrested Fay Ruth Romesburg, 59, and her son, David Scott Romesburg III, 38, both of Santa Rosa, and seized their property.
The mother and son are being held at the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of pimping and pandering, and human trafficking. He also is being held on suspicion of money laundering.
Both appeared Monday in Sonoma County Superior Court, but the case was continued until March 16 to allow them more time to hire a private attorney.
Neither has entered pleas yet, but in an interview at the jail Fay Romesburg denied any wrongdoing.
She called the human trafficking charges against her son “political” and the money laundering charges “ridiculous” because he is financially dependent on her income from writing.
“I’m a writer, that’s my business,” said Romesburg, a self-described feminist who has written erotic fiction under the name F.R.R. Mallory. Her titles include: “The Kinky Feminist,” “Extreme Space: The Domination & Submission Handbook” and “Extreme Space II: Kink Secrets.”
“I’m deeply concerned about female empowerment and female sexual empowerment,” she said from behind a plexiglass window at the jail where she is being held on $245,000 bail. “We need to stop treating these women as victims. They are highly intelligent and educated.”
While denying any role as pimp, she called laws prohibiting prostitution a “continued assault on women’s rights”
David Romesburg’s bail is $250,000.
Rohnert Park police, who led the investigation into the Romesburgs, said the mother and son pimped around 150 women over 10 years.
Five women allegedly pimped by the Romesburgs, ranging in age from 18 to 50, have cooperated with police and prosecutors.
Despite Fay Romesburg’s statements about empowerment, Rohnert Park police Sgt. Jeff Justice said women were abused by her son. One woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by David Romesburg during her job interview; another said he would not let her leave the brothel until she paid off a debt to him.
The Alvarado Avenue home had come to the attention of Santa Rosa police last summer after a neighbor complained of a brothel on the street, said Santa Rosa police Lt. John Cregan, who oversees criminal investigations.
An officer went to the residence over the summer but was denied entry, Cregan said. The office was told by women inside that a photography business was run out of the residence.
“We worked the information we had but we never got enough for probable cause for a warrant,” Cregan said.
“I can understand some of the frustration in the neighborhood. We could have had a more assertive role on this.”
Fay Romesburg said there was never any prostitution in the seven-bedroom Alvarado home, but she did rent out rooms to women who were self-employed and would have a hard time proving income to most landlords.
“I may go to prison,” she said, “but I’ve only helped women by giving them a safe place to live.”
You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nrahaim.