An undercover sex sting that used Miss America as bait appeared to be in trouble until the beauty queen said Tuesday she changed her mind and agreed to testify against the men she helped arrest.
Lauren Nelson, 20, of Lawton, Okla., worked with police in Suffolk County to target would-be Internet sexual predators, taped for an episode of the TV show “America's Most Wanted.”
She posed as a teenager and lured men into chatting online and meeting her at a home, where police and crews were waiting. The online profile included photographs of her as a teenager.
Eleven men were arrested in the sting, and the show aired Saturday.
Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Nelson had told prosecutors she did not plan to return to Long Island to testify. In a statement, he called on her Tuesday to “meet her civic responsibility and testify as a witness to a crime.”
On Tuesday, the Miss America Organization said Nelson is “fully cooperating with the law enforcement officials.” Spokeswoman Sharon Pearce said that included the district attorney’s office.
Nelson was traveling and unavailable for comment, Pearce said.
Spota later said the pageant organization contacted his office and assured him that Nelson had no problems testifying. He said that Nelson’s continued participation was “absolutely essential” to the cases.
Spota used his statement Tuesday to urge caution in using celebrities to fight crime.
Attorney Michael Brown, who represents one of the 11 men swept up in the sting, said he had the right to cross-examine the beauty queen if she contends that she spoke with his client.
“You’ve now made Miss America a witness,” he said.