Culture News

Phoenix Goddess Temple Raided; 16 People Detained

Phoenix Goddess Temple, the "sexual healing" church featured in the New Times' story Sacred Sexuality in February, was raided by Phoenix police officers Wednesday. 


Sixteen people -- five men and eleven women -- were detained for questioning. Among those arrested was temple practitioner Wayne Clayton, who is one of 12 people being indicted on grand jury charges including illegal control of enterprise, maintaining a house of prostitution, and receiving the earnings of a prostitute. 

Phoenix police sergeant Steve Martos confirmed that officers served a search warrant at the temple, located near 24th Street and Thomas Road yesterday afternoon. Sgt. Martos said not all of the 16 people being questioned are employees of the temple. 

In 2009, police visited the Goddess Temple's previous location in a residential area of Scottsdale after neighbors complained. The temple moved to its current location in March 2010. 

No one at Phoenix Goddess Temple could be reached for comment, but practitioners at the temple and "Temple Mother" Tracy Elise have long maintained that the "sessions" they have with clients are part of their religion and are for "healing" purposes.  

Also arrested during Wednesday's raid were Heidi Winemiller, Sandra Brown, Marilyn Hussey, Amanda Twitty, Jamie Baker, Theresa Eakin, Holly Alsop, Patricia Boyko, Dawn Colwell, Janet Craven, and Alex Averill. 

In addition to the raid on the Phoenix Goddess Temple, search warrants were served Wednesday at the Sedona Temple, a similar "church" where Goddess Temple practitioners have worked. Police have not said what they were looking for during the raid, only that the warrant is part of an ongoing investigation. 

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea