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Professor allegedly ran prostitution website

A 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 sophisticated prostitution website that may have catered to as many as 200 prostitutes and 1,200 clients.

David Flory, 68, was arrested Sunday at a Starbucks in Albuquerque on 40 counts of promoting prostitution. The professor, who has taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University since 1969, has a vacation home in Santa Fe.

A specialist in elementary particle theory, Flory also spent a decade in the school administration where, according to his website, he worked on human resource database systems and measured academic productivity -- skills that were evident from the three-tiered system police say he created for rating the privileges of johns who used the prostitution service.

Flory, a married father of three according to his personal website, was being held on a $100,000 bond Tuesday. He didn't 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. The prostitutes were paid between $80 and $850 for their services, according to the criminal complaint.

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 Fairleigh Dickinson campus. Their Santa Fe vacation house is called Casa de Los Arboles, or "house of the trees."

"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."

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.

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