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Success stories seen at Nassau's 'johns school'

The "johns school" for men who were accused of patronizing prostitutes in Nassau County taught a lesson to at least some of the men who attended, according to the program's education director.

"I do believe it was successful," Anthony Zenkus, director of education at the nonprofit Safe Center in Bethpage, said in an interview last week.

"With any program like this, like a DUI or DWI, there will be some people who aren't willing to hear the message and keep looking at their watch," Zenkus said. "But I can tell you there were men in those classes who absolutely heard the message, who spoke up and made it clear they understood."

He said 80 of the 104 men swept up in the Flush the Johns sting two years ago have taken the two-hour class so far. The men pay a $250 fee and there is no cost to taxpayers, he said.

If they take the class, the men could plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation that will leave them without a criminal record from that arrest.

The center also provides services for women seeking to get out of prostitution, and "We shared some of their stories with the men," Zenkus said. "The men who came to the classes heard that and also got another message: that this is exploitation of women."

"This is happening in our communities, and the people buying sex are men we know. It has to stop," he said.

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