Winchester official arrested in prostitution sting

By Alex Bridges

A top Winchester official could face jail time after his recent arrest on prostitution and drug charges in Shenandoah County.

Authorities arrested James William “Jim” Deskins, 59, of 142 Hawthorne Drive, on March 27 and charged him with solicitation of prostitution and possession of marijuana, Sheriff Timothy Carter said Wednesday. Deskins remains free on an unsecured, $2,500 bond pending an appearance in Shenandoah County General District Court scheduled for April 14.

Solicitation of prostitution is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

Neither City Manager Dale Iman nor other city officials returned email messages Wednesday evening seeking confirmation that Deskins, executive director of the Winchester Economic Development Authority, had resigned.

Deskins and about a half-dozen other people were arrested as the result of an undercover operation into prostitution led by area authorities. Officers with the Mount Jackson Police Department led the operation with assistance from agencies in New Market, Woodstock and Winchester. Deputies with the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office assigned to the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force assisted other agencies in the operation and with making the arrests, Carter said.

Deputies charged Deskins with possession of marijuana during a search conducted after arresting him on the prostitution count, Carter noted.

The operation involved the use of a confidential informant who advertised services on an Internet website, Carter said. The sheriff would not disclose the name of the website nor explain where the suspected johns would know to look for these services. The suspects then contacted the female informant and would set up a time for their rendezvous. When the suspects arrived at the hotel, law enforcement agents moved in to make the arrests, Carter said.

The criminal complaint filed in Deskins’ arrest by Sgt. B.D. Lutz of the Sheriff’s Office shed little more information into the case. Carter cited the complaint that noted the confidential informant was propositioned for sexual services during the investigation. Deskins arrived at the hotel in town and offered the confidential informant $100 in exchange for sexual services, Carter said, citing the complaint.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com