MADISON, N.J. — A longtime New Jersey physics professor who dabbled in scuba diving and harbored dreams of working in the theater had another hobby, New Mexico police say: operating a prostitution website that may have catered to as many as 200 prostitutes and 1,200 clients.
David Flory was arrested Sunday at a Starbucks in Albuquerque, N.M., and charged with 40 counts of promoting prostitution.
The 68-year-old Flory has taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University since 1969 and has been a physics professor there since 1980, according to his website. He also has served as director of FDU's School of Natural Sciences.
Flory, a married father of three, was being held on a $100,000 bond Tuesday. He didn't immediately respond to an e-mail message. His wife didn't return a phone message left at the couple's New York apartment.
Albuquerque Police Lt. William Roseman told The Associated Press that Flory's password-protected website, Southwest Companions, had been the subject of a vice investigation for the last six months after police received tips from prostitutes and johns.
Roseman said the site had been in operation about three years and had about 1,400 members — about 200 prostitutes and about 1,200 johns. Most of the members were in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area, though some postings originated in Phoenix and Denver.
Flory and his wife, Sharon, a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders, live in an apartment on New York's Upper West Side, about 10 miles from the FDU campus. They have a vacation house in Santa Fe called Casa de Los Arboles, or "house of the trees," according to Flory's website.
The alleged prostitution site apparently didn't make a lot of money.
"He said he was not in this for the money," Roseman told the AP. "He flat-out told us his thing was he wanted to create a safe place for prostitutes and johns to get together. He called it a hobby."
Roseman said Flory also is believed to have enjoyed the services of some of the prostitutes when he traveled to New Mexico.
Roseman said the site had three levels: Probation, verified and trust.
"In order to get off probation you had to sleep with one of the prostitutes on the website and she in turn would tell the moderator (Flory) what acts occurred, how much they paid and any comments," he said. "That opened you up to verified status. Once you got into verified status that opened you up to different girls available. Then, some would e-mail the moderator, 'This is the act, this is how much he paid, these are my comments about it.'"
After so many of those, Roseman said, members moved into trusted status, which afforded access to features such as training videos on what do if you got caught by police. Members who reached the trusted level also could rate prostitutes.
According to Flory's personal website, he has two daughters, a stepdaughter and four grandchildren. In an interview with a university publication in February, he said he is a certified scuba diver and also said he has considered attempting a career in theatrical lighting design, a pursuit he'd followed in high school and college.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University spokeswoman said the school was saddened by the arrest, but did not say if Flory had been suspended from his job.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.