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Police raid sex church in Arizona

  |   Sept. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM
PHOENIX, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The founder of an Arizona sex church and 17 others have been arrested on a variety of prostitution-related charges, officials said.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the Phoenix Goddess Temple raided by police "was no more a church than Cuba is Fantasy Island," The Arizona Republic of Phoenix reported Friday.

The temple's religious tenets connect spirituality and sexuality, its Web site says.

Online ads for the temple offered "sensual worship" for $204 an hour and promoted the "Very Erotic Priestess Sophia."

Founder Tracy Elise, 50, who called herself the temple's "Mystic Mother," faces charges of prostitution, illegal control of an enterprise, pandering and operating a house of prostitution.

Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said it is "particularly disheartening that some would attempt to disguise their crimes as religious freedom."

Montgomery said his office worked with vice squad detectives from Phoenix for six months to indict 33 people associated with the temple.

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