Arthur Joseph Rouse

Arthur Joseph Rouse

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A Michigan business owner's offer of money and shelter attracted several young homeless men, but authorities said he expected sexual favors from them in exchange for his charity.

Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputies arrested Arthur Joseph Rouse, 54, on Thursday afternoon, said Lt. Chris Barsheff. Rouse faces three counts of accosting and soliciting, a misdemeanor, after accusations arose from three men he let stay at his auto shop.

"In general, the allegation is that the defendant solicited young men to commit sexual acts for money and the privilege of staying at the building rather than being homeless," said Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney.

Rouse, a convicted sex offender, owns Art's Auto Repair and Transmissions in northern Michigan's Traverse City.

A prostitution probe that focused on the business began in March. That's when a sheriff's deputy drove to the nearby Goodwill Inn to take a report about potential sex crimes and interviewed a man who used to stay at Rouse's shop, a police report states. 

"(The victim) continued to state that Arthur would offer video games, money, a car for a short period of time and a place to stay all in return for sexual favors," the report states.

The victim, who lived at the shop for about two years, said members of Rouse's "night crew" were expected to participate in sexual acts at night, according to the report. The man contended other men who lived there didn't have a choice and would "basically be thrown out into the cold" if they didn't participate.

A sheriff's detective interviewed two other men who stayed at Rouse's shop and said they received money in exchange for sexual acts with Rouse, the report states.

Court records state Rouse pleaded guilty in 1998 to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. His conviction carries a lifetime sex offender registration.

Accosting and soliciting is a charge that requires a suspect to solicit for prostitution or a lewd act.

"This only requires solicitation," Cooney said. "It does not require a sexual act."

Cooney said the victims are 19, 20, and 21 years old. He said his office is reviewing the case for other potential charges.

Matt Troutman writes for The Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan.

This Week's Circulars