The news over the weekend that a staffer for Congressman Clay Higgins had been picked up on pandering charges arising from last week’s bust of a series of “happy endings” massage parlors in Lafayette brings back some unpleasant memories from three years ago, and amazement that similar stories should surface under two different congressmen in the same district.
Jerod C. Prunty, 47, an aide to Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins, was arrested Saturday and charged with two counts of pandering, according to booking information from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
His arrest is related to the arrest of eight others last week in connection with human sex trafficking, pandering and prostitution involving five Lafayette Parish massage parlors, according to John Mowell, public information officer with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Our media partners at KATC TV3 obtained the following statement from Higgins’ office:
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of allegations against Jerod. His arrest is deeply troubling. Jerod has been placed on administrative leave, pending investigation and adjudication.”
Prunty isn’t the only resident at his Lafayette address arrested under the umbrella of the Lafayette massage parlor sting. Pingjuan Xia, 36, of that same address, was re-arrested Saturday after being picked up in the initial dragnet and charged with prostitution by massage and massage parlor prohibited sexual conduct.
The truly ironic, and perhaps more frustrating, piece to the Prunty arrest is that it represents the second time in three years that a staffer for a congressman from Louisiana’s 3rd district has been publicly tied to prostitution. In 2016, then-Rep. Charles Boustany suffered a quite embarrassing mini-scandal amid his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat when a book titled Murder In The Bayou was published detailing a series of unsolved killings of prostitutes in the town of Jennings, west of Lafayette. The victims had all plied their trade in a house of ill repute called the Boudreaux Inn, which had been owned and operated by a Boustany staffer named Martin Guillory.
Guillory resigned his position immediately after being outed in the book, and Boustany spent much of that campaign fending off questions about his own involvement with the Boudreaux Inn. As in the case of Higgins and Prunty there is no evidence the congressman ever had anything to do with the bordello his staffer operated, but that won’t stop tongues from wagging about the scandal.
From Higgins’ standpoint it’s at least a lucky thing none of this came out six months prior, because it might have cast a pall over his re-election campaign. Higgins cruised to a second term with 56 percent of the vote in a seven-person primary field.