Published: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500
Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:12:35 -0500
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:21:00 -0500Updated (9:12 P.M. ET), and more: Scroll down for updates on possible source for the material. If you've ever wondered why the news media is treated with derision and distrust, today is your lucky day. Buzzfeed has published a "dossier" of unclear provenance that says President-elect Donald Trump is a pervert who is being blackmailed by Russian agents who have compromising material about his sexual kinks. Sensational, provocative, insane, scatological (urological?), incredible—the dossier is all that and more. Read about how Trump supposedly insisted on staying in a hotel room used by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and hired prostitutes to urinate on the bed. Yes, it's that level of report. And it's all horseshit, if you believe Buzzfeed's own intro to the material, which stresses that we're talking about "explosive — but unverified — allegations." Worse still from a journalistic perspective is this sort of phony-baloney gesture that insulates the publisher evens as it distances any truth claims: Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government. I like Wikileaks and other forms of forced transparency, but we shouldn't confuse what Buzzfeed is up to here with that, or with journalism. There's no reason to believe that the material is in any way accurate or meaningful, other than as opposition research that circulated among various government agencies and media outlets, all of whom passed on it because it reeks not of urine but of falsity. Here's what Buzzfeed honcho Ben Smith tweeted about this all: Here's the note I sent to @buzzfeednews staff this evening pic.twitter.com/OcAloWzVzb — Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 11, 2017 There is serious reason to doubt the allegations. You got that? But let's publish them anyway because, WTF, who doesn't want to read them? The press works better when it verifies information and brings it to the public's attention, and lets us plebes make of it what we will. In this case, all we have is a document that may or may not be "real" or a fake. Remember all the serioso discussions of fake news and how Trump and his deplorables were ruining everything good and clean-smelling in America? Well, the one thing you can say this time around is: Don't blame the billionaire. Yes, he can and should be more voluntarily transparent. But media and journalism, like politics, have become tribal and ritualistic, arenas of something far worse than epistemic closure. Yesterday, I noted that serious liberals sick of ever-expanding presidential overreach need to join with libertarians and conservatives to create a world in which the executive branch isn't all-powerful. We need to do something similar in media discourse, too, and not simply go back and forth from right to left with hysterical and fabulistic attacks on real and imagined enemies. At least, we need to do better if we want to be a semi-serious people. More here. Update: Some folks on Twitter are claiming that the dossier is actually a prank pulled by 4Chan and /pol/ posters at the expense of GOP operative Rick Wilson and other folks in the media. Wilson tweets: You're wrong if you believe 1. What we had came from /pol. 2. That I was Buzzfeed's source. Try again, boys. — Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) January 11, 2017 And here's a link to CNN's report on the dossier story. "At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations." More Update (Jan. 11, 3:45PM): Read Jesse Walker's take on why the Buzzfeed bombshell was both flimsy and newsworthy.[...]
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 08:05:00 -0500Like Craigslist before it, Backpage.com has shut down the "Adult" section of its classified-ad website, amid a seemingly endless stream of government pressure. In both cases, state and federal authorities have maintained that the mere presence of open forums for user-generated adult advertising creates a market for child sex-trafficking. Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and his associates have been subject to lawsuits, criminal charges, economic bullying, and Congressional hearings—the latest of which will take place today, January 10, before the U.S. Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations—in an attempt to thwart this supposed sex trade. But after proclaiming innocence and pushing back and for several years, Backpage will now—"as the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship," its lawyers said in a statement—comply with demands to end its adult-ad section. Last fall, former California Attorney General Kamala Harris tried to convict Ferrer and former Backpage.com heads Michael Lacey and James Larkin (founders of Village Voice media) of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. A judge threw out the charges, saying they were unconstitutional and violated federal law, which specifies—under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—that third-party publishers can't be held criminally liable for the content of user-generated posts. Section 230 doesn't just stop sites like Craigslist and Backpage from getting in trouble if someone posts a prostitution ad there but allows Reddit to exist without its CEO getting charged for every credible user threat, keeps Facebook from being shut down after some 20-year-old picks up a 17-year-old girl there, prevents Craigslist from being found guilty every time someone rips someone off over a used washer, and stops the feds from coming after Reason.com when the comments section contains unsavory content. But despite Section 230's alleged protections, government officials have again and again gone after Backpage for allowing adult ads, even though these ads do not directly reference illegal activity and any illegal activity that results from folks finding each other via Backpage takes place far outside of its owners or operators' purview. How should Backpage operators know whether a woman offering dominatrix services or a "full-body sensual massage" on the site is really offering dominatrix services or a full-body sensual massage, and not simply having sex for money? How can they know if the poster who says she's 18 is actually a few months shy of it? There's no way they can, and yet this lack of omnipotence and pre-cognition apparently won't do. As Backpage, and Craigslist before it, have shown, websites are more than welcome to offer open forums for user posts without government interference so long as none of the posts have anything to do with sexuality. Yet the moment "adult" work comes into play, all free-speech protections and anti-censorship agendas dissipate. Lawmakers, prosecutors, and the media who fellate them start saying things like, "If it saves only one child..." Shutting down Backpage won't save even one child, though, or one adult, or anybody. Backpage.com is a neutral publishing platform, albeit one that's become popular among sex workers ranging from strippers and erotic masseuses to people who offer sex for a fee. Without its adult section, sex workers of all ages will have to find some other way to advertise—perhaps simply by moving to a more discreet section of the site, as was done on Craigslist (anyone who thinks ridding Craigslist of its adult-services section actually thwarted commercial-sex advertising there should check out the site's "Casual Encounters" section now); perhaps by advertising elsewhere online (the internet is a vast place); or perhaps by returning to older client-gathering methods, like word-of-mouth or walking the streets. But what doesn't happen in all but the most fervent prohibitionist imaginations is that people whose livelihoods depend on prostitution or more legal forms of erotic wo[...]
Tue, 13 Dec 2016 11:38:00 -0500
(image) Larry Harmel, executive director of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, is the latest criminal-justice official to get caught up in his colleagues' own undercover prostitution stings. On December 9, the 71-year-old was charged with soliciting prostitution in connection with a Baltimore sting that took place in October.
The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association is a nonprofit group that lobbies on behalf of law-enforcement agents. Harmel became head following a 30-plus year career as a Maryland state trooper, seven years as head of the Maryland Transit Authority, and a failed bid to represent Baltimore County as a Democrat in the state legislature. At the top of his erstwhile campaign site, it still reads: "You can't buy trust, but you can earn it ... let me earn your trust!"
Harmel reportedly denied the solicitation allegation to The Baltimore Sun last Friday. A reporter from the paper called back Monday and spoke with association attorney Bruce Marcus, who said he was unaware of the charges. But Harmel is "a long, storied, exemplary law enforcement officer and public servant who's got an unblemished career," Marcus told the Sun. "We will do everything humanly possible to clear his name and reputation."
Later that day, Harmel resigned.
According to the Sun, Harmel was arrested after approaching an undercover vice officer in an outdoor area of southeast Baltimore known for prostitution.
The officer asked Harmel what he was looking for, and said he responded: "You know."
"You're making me nervous. Are you a cop?" they asked each other, according to court records.
The officer said she would perform a sex act "not for a lot," saying, "I haven't had my medicine today. I just need to get my medicine." He agreed and she got into Harmel's truck, where he said he would take her to a graveyard.
The undercover officer cited Harmel and said he would receive a summons for arraignment at a later date.
Also in the news this week for following a do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do policy with regard to soliciting sex: Raymond Edward Bernasconi, until recently a deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Bernasconi was scheduled to be arraigned yesterday for soliciting prostitution, after being arrested on November 21 in a sting conducted by the Sheriff's Human Trafficking Bureau, though his hearing has now been postponed until January for unspecified reasons. Bernasconi, 55, allegedly made arrangements online to meet someone he thought was selling sex at a local motel. When he showed up, "she" turned out to be undercover cops, who arrested the deputy and took him into custody.
Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:25:00 -0500
(image) In my post about PizzaGate earlier today, I mentioned the "white slavery" scare of the Progressive Era, when wild stories circulated of vast conspiracies coercing young women into prostitution. Forced prostitution did exist, of course, but these tales greatly exaggerated both how common and how organized it was. As is often the case, the moral panic manifested itself at the movies.
The white-slavery film cycle began with George Loane Tucker's 1913 hit Traffic in Souls; the second major entry was Frank Beal's The Inside of the White Slave Traffic, released the same year. The latter is embedded below. Unfortunately, some scenes from the movie are lost, so additional intertitles have been inserted to describe what happens in the missing sections.
In brief, the picture tells the story of a girl who is tricked into a fake marriage with a procurer for a sex-trafficking ring, who then ships her off to be a whore in New Orleans. She tries to break free, fleeing to Denver and Houston, but everywhere she goes she is tracked by the enormous sex syndicate. Unable to find any other job, she finally submits.
One of the odder twists comes when she then falls into a conversation with a potential john. A policeman interrupts them, lets the man walk away, and hauls our heroine off to jail. The film disapproves: A placard says, "One law for man—Another for woman." But it just disapproves of the man walking free: The arrest appears to be a good thing, since it leads to the woman's rehabilitation. After her imprisonment, she finally gets a respectable job. (Then she slides back into prostitution and dies. Not a cheery movie!)
Like many other "educational" films over the years, The Inside of the White Slave Traffic opens with an earnest-sounding declaration of serious intent before proceeding to the salacious story. The reaction was similarly bifurcated: Anti-vice activists promoted it, but police shut down some screenings on the grounds that the picture was obscene. Judge for yourself:
src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZZHihjo_eBQ" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0">
The opening includes a list of people who have endorsed the film, ending with a dubious invocation of "every Sociologist of note from Atlantic to Pacific." If you know your Progressive Era history, some of those names may be familiar to you. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a prominent feminist, was the author of Herland, a utopian science fiction novel in which an all-female society reproduces parthenogenetically. And Frederic Howe had a long career as a reformer, at various stages becoming everything from a Henry Georgist to a New Dealer; his 1906 book Confessions of a Monopolist has a small libertarian fan base. For the purposes of this picture, though, his most relevant credential may be that he was director of the National Board of Censorship.
(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)
Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:28:00 -0500In our government's ever-escalating war on prostitution, U.S. cops continue sinking to new lows in executing sting-ops and other ploys designed to punish people willing to pay or be paid for sex. With too many recent examples to cover individually, I've decided to round up a few that have stuck out over the past month. So behold: here are a few of the foolish, counterproductive, and outright cruel ways in which U.S. authorities are spending public-safety resources to further a futile crusade against consensual commercial sex between adults. Making Women Agree to Fetish Requests Before Arresting Them One disturbing new trend I've noticed of late is undercover cops posing not just as vanilla sex-buyers or women looking to get cash for sex but as prostitution clients with unusual kinks or women demanding payment in things like cheeseburgers. Then, after a sex worker or would-be client is arrested by undercover officers, the police—and the media segments that parrot them—are sure to highlight the more "weird" (read: mockable and attention-grabbing) elements of the bust. For instance, in one November prostitution sting in Ohio, a woman asked an undercover cop she thought was a potential customer to bring some nachos to the appointment. She also requested a cash payment along with the snack. Guess what the police, and headlines above her photo (which is now plastered all over the internet), emphasized? Woman has sex for nachos, of course. What makes this latest example especially egregious is that police didn't just publicize a true, albeit inconsequential and potentially embarrassing, detail that did at least originate in the real request. In this case, they set up a sting wherein sex workers advertising online were asked to oblige an undercover cop's fetish request, which involved gummy worms in some way. But the gummy-worm fetish part has no bearing on whether the elements of the crime of prostitution are satisfied, so it's hard to see why officers would include it but for their own amusement or to ensure that the sting would be irresistible to the press afterward (or both). After one woman, whom the police-report classifies as "a known prostitute in the area," agreed to indulge the request and told the "client" to bring the gummy worms with him, she was arrested for prostitution as well as "possessing criminal tools"—her cellphone, since she used it to arrange her date with the undercover officer. The woman spent the night in the Mahoning County (Ohio) jail and has a court date set for January. Local news headlines about the bust made it seem as if she had requested the gummy worms as payment for sex. Arresting Teens for Interfering With Pre-Crime Three Michigan teenagers have filed a lawsuit against Detroit police officers, after they were arrested in August for distracting a relative who was meeting a woman—an undercover police officer he thought was a sex worker—in a CVS parking lot to pay for sexual activity. Police said the teens, who had been parked outside a fast-food restaurant across the street where one of them worked, interfered in an official investigation when they flagged down the older man with shouts and arm gestures, prompting him to head over their way. The cops contended that the teens had been yelling "don't do it," and "appeared to be discouraging the older Arabic male from talking with the decoy," according to the police report. The young men, 17-year-olds Hassan Abdallah and Ibrahim Bazzi and 18-year-old Ali Chami, claim they had simply seen Abdallah's relative and reacted like anyone might to get his attention. But even if the teens had somehow known that by pulling into a CVS parking-lot, the older man was intending to meet a sex worker, "so what?" asked defense attorney Amir Makled. "The objective of any law-enforcement official is to deter crime." And if the young men "were helping deter crime... what's going on? What's the problem?" Makled and fellow attorney Nick Hadous sugges[...]
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:00:00 -0500
From her award-winning Reason cover story "The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs" to her hardboiled quantitative reporting on modern vice squads, Elizabeth Nolan Brown is your gal for smart, readable journalism about sex policy and politics. Her work was cited throughout an amicus brief in the Backpage.com First Amendment case that later got called out favorably by Judge Richard Posner in his decision siding with Backpage. Also, sex columnist Dan Savage quotes her.
Basically, she knows her sex policy stuff. And a beat like Brown's is pretty much only possible at Reason, where we understand and love sex and commerce in equal measure.
Read the whole exchange below.
Thu, 17 Nov 2016 15:00:00 -0500Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control, by Diana Rickard, Rutgers University Press, 216 pp., $44.95 Last year, Lenore Skenazy hosted a brunch at her home in New York City. The "free range kids" advocate invited journalists, fed them quiche, and introduced them to two guest speakers. Both were young men who had served time for sex crimes against minors. As videotape rolled, one man told the audience about entering puberty with great sexual confusion. He said he'd been raised in a fundamentalist Christian family, homeschooled, and kept isolated from other kids, including girls. He talked about sexually touching his little sister, and he talked about being incarcerated for this offense while he himself was still a child. The other man described a statutory crime. He is gay, and as a very young adult, he said, he began a relationship—including sex—with a gay teen younger than the legal age of consent. The young man served his time in prison, but then an effort began to "civilly commit" him to a locked mental hospital for sex offenders, probably for the rest of his life. That effort was irrational and vicious, he said; he certainly was not a continuing danger to children. The reporters scribbled notes. They looked spellbound. I was at the brunch. It was a terrific event, one whose time had come. (Reason ran video from it online, and Skenazy wrote about it in the July 2015 issue.) Skenazy has spent the past several years writing and speaking about what she feels is a modern-day panic about imagined danger to children. She talks about parents reluctant to let their kids roam the neighborhood, about children not allowed even to play on their lawns for fear of being kidnapped or molested. One big trigger for that panic, Skenazy believes, is erroneous attitudes about sex offenders. Research by the U.S. Department of Justice shows that the vast majority of sex offenders pose no further threat to children after they do their time. Nevertheless, they get put on public sex offender registries, and residence restrictions banish them from parts of cities and even entire cities. They can't get work. They fear vigilantes visiting their addresses, which are publicized on the registry. Thus do irrationality and paranoia quarantine a group from society. That was the message of Skenazy's brunch, with its Sunday-morning quiche, its ex-cons, and the favorable press that followed. But the event's success was marred months later, when the gay man who had spoken there was re-arrested. He'd been caught texting with a teenaged boy. He was jailed again, amid a new round of publicity. For the fledgling movement for sex offenders' civil and human rights, the incident was disheartening. The movement's nascent efforts remain swamped by cultural noise about sex offenders, noise that is often wrong. Take the claim that sex offenders are incorrigible even after being punished—that most can't or won't control themselves, and they inevitably re-offend. Sometimes they do. But a raft of research, including studies by both the U.S. and Canadian governments, have shown that adjudicated sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate. The U.S. study found that rates for first-time offenders are as low as five percent during the first three years after release. That's the lowest rate for any violent crime except murder. Nor is it true that people who sexually assault kids tend to be strangers to their victims. That's the idea that fuels sex offender registries and residency restrictions, but the vast majority of offenders are family members or friends of victims. Every time you see sex-crime law christened with the first name of a dead child who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered by a stranger, remember that these scenarios are about as rare as death by lightning. But child sex abuse is common. Trusted stepfathers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, teachers, family friends, religious lea[...]
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 17:30:00 -0500Today Californians vote on Proposition 60, a ballot measure sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) that would require condom usage in adult films; empower a full-time state porn czar to monitor said films for violations (and impose steep fines); establish a licensing scheme for porn-production companies; and allow California residents to bring civil suits against porn producers or anyone with financial interests in a sex scene sans prophylactics (which could, in turn, expose porn performers real names and addresses to the public). AHF President Michael Weinstein, the main driver behind Prop 60—and the man who would be the state's first porn czar—has also repeatedly petitioned the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to make condoms in porn a requirement of state workplace-safety regulations; Cal/OSHA voted against such a rule again last February. And he's the genesis of a 2012 Los Angeles County law requiring condoms in porn filmed in Los Angeles County. "He wants to be the sheriff of porn town," said Karen Fuller Tynan, a California lawyer who specializes in adult-industry case, at an AVN panel in Las Vegas in January. "He really wants to get rid of us, and wants to rule us." Weinstein, however, maintains that he's interested in stopping the spread of HIV. The porn industry, including the performers Prop 60 is ostensibly meant to protect, has been vocally opposed to the measure, as have HIV/AIDS organizations and the state Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian parties. A partial list of opponents includes adult-industry trade association the Free Speech Coalition, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the St. James Infirmary, Equality California, all seven of California's largest newspapers (the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Orange County Register, the East Bay Times, the Sacramento Bee, and the San Diego Union Tribune) and dozens of other papers. My cali peeps are tellin me #Prop60 & #Prop61 are wolves in sheep clothing (coming in one name but meaning another) and y'all should vote NO https://t.co/estYmabRDt — Questlove Gomez (@questlove) November 8, 2016 According to Prop 60 opponents, the measure presents too much of a risk to performer privacy, giving California residents "the ability to out porn performers and get paid for it," as Violet Blue put it at Engadget. ("You're incentivizing the viewer to sue us," adult actor Tommy Gunn told the Hollywood Reporter.) They also worry the law could end up ensnaring individuals who do private webcam shows from their own homes (a rising part of the porn industry) or make amateur adult-films involving real-life a lover, spouse, or friend; California couples with an exhibitionist streak could find themselves facing tens of thousands in fines. But most importantly, it's completely unnecessary—the adult-film industry is self-policing, performers are tested every 14 days, and there hasn't been a single case of on-set HIV transmission in porn since 2004, they say. Vice News Tonight reporter (and Reason alum) Michael Moynihan talked to Yes On 60 campaign manager Rick Taylor on the show's season debut Monday and asked him about his group's claims that the porn industry lies about HIV transmissions. Taylor defended the claim by saying that "none of us know, truthfully, and they don't know and I'm not gonna tell you I know. What I do know is that STDs on a daily basis gets transmitted." Here's a bit more of the exchange: Moynihan: STDs? But if this is the concern, why do the ads you guys run have three people that stated they have contracted HIV on an adult set? They're saying that in the ad. They're saying 'we contracted this on a set,' but you're saying you don't know? Taylor: I'm saying that I believe they did. I'm saying I believe they did. Porn performer Chanel Preston[...]
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 11:35:00 -0400
(image) Another day, another U.S. cop accused of abetting the prostitution of teenagers. Chicago police officer William Whitley, a 26-year veteran of the department, was arrested Tuesday for sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography, amid an ongoing investigation into claims that Whitley, 60, paid girls as young as 14-years-old for sex at parties, at his apartment, and even in his car with his partner present. Whitley was also found to have taken graphic photos of the girls and have their phone numbers stored in his phone, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
Whitley has been on paid desk duty since a federal investigation into him was launched in September 2015. It started after the 14-year-old was arrested on outstanding warrants after being picked up in an FBI-orchestrated prostitution sting.
At the time, Whitley denied knowing a 16-year-old girl who said he had paid her for sexual activity; he admitted to having sex once with the 14-year-old—a runaway with a full set of metal braces on her teeth—but claimed that he did not know she was underage.
Whitley's case serves as a great example of the culture of corruption and lack of accountability present at so many police stations throughout the country. His file reveals at least 28 complaints against him, going back as far as 1991, including several incidents in which a temporary suspension was ordered. In the past six years alone, Whitley has been sued twice for wrongful arrest, though one case was dismissed before trial and a jury found in his favor in the other.
According to the Chicago Tribune, another Chicago police officer may also have paid underage girls for sex and is still under investigation.
A recent Associated Press analysis of police sexual misconduct found that approximately three U.S. officers per week had their licenses revoked over sexual offenses from 2009 through 2014.
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 04:00:00 -0400
(image) The state of Colorado has shut down the Squirrel Creek Wildlife Rescue and charged owner Kendall Seifert with 21 criminal counts including keeping rescued animals for too long and putting them on display. But Seifert says the state is really coming at him because he operates a swinger's club adjacent to the rescue facility, a business he says funds his wildlife rescue efforts.
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 16:00:00 -0400A British man has been banned from entering bars after 9 p.m. and must alert police every time he intends to have sexual contact with someone new after being found innocent of sexual assault and rape charges in two jury trials. Think you must have read the above sentence wrong? Probably not. Despite being deemed innocent by his peers—twice—Nicholas Crawshaw, 23, is now subject to a civil "Sex Risk Order" after local cops weren't content to let the trials-by-jury stand. Initially, Crawshaw stood accused of sexually assaulting eight women between 2010 and 2015. In March 2016, a jury found him not guilty of several of the counts but couldn't decide on others, spawning a retrial. In that trial, which concluded October 18, Crawshaw was found not guilty of the remaining eight offenses. After spending 16 months in prison—and being cleared of all six counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault, and two counts of assault by penetration that had been facing him—Crawshaw was allowed to go free. Following the second trial, local prosecutor Alison Mutch said, "We respect the decision of the jury." But that respect was apparently short-lived. On October 21, just three days after Crawshaw was cleared of all charges against him, Cheshire Police initiated civil proceedings to impose an interim "Sex Risk Order" on Crawshaw. Speaking for Cheshire Police, Elizabeth Heavy told the court that Crawshaw was a "sexual predator" who had "admitted sexual contact" with several of the women who had accused him. Crawshaw "admitted in the course of criminal proceedings that he had sex with one complainant in a toilet in a nightclub," Heavy pointed out, and he said he met "many" complainants in nightclubs or bars. "It is for [these] reasons that the application has been drafted," she said. It's true that Crawshaw admitted to sexual contact with some of his accusers. It's also, on its own, irrelevant to whether he's a "sexual predator." The sexual contact Crawshaw admitted to was, he claims, consensual. The accusers claimed it was not. The jury found Crawshaw more credible. But West Cheshire magistrates agreed, at least temporarily, with the local cops' logic in this case. On Monday, they issued a temporary Sex Risk Order against Crawshaw which prohibits him from going into places that serve alcohol after 9 p.m. and requires him to inform local police beforehand every time he intends to have "sexual contact" with someone new. In November, magistrates will hold a full hearing to determine how long the order will stay in place. According to Sky News, more than 50 Sex Risk Orders have been issued by British authorities, although only one prior order requires its subject to notify the government of every new sex partner. That order, issued in 2015 against John O'Neill, was subsequently deemed "unpoliceable" by a York Magistrates' Court. However, the only adjustment York magistrates made to O'Neill's order was that he needn't inform cops 24 hours before starting a new sexual relationship but merely "as soon as is reasonably practicable."[...]
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 07:40:00 -0400The results have been pouring in from Operation Cross Country X, the FBI's tenth annual, nationwide sex sting targeting what the agency describes as "underage human trafficking." Each year, FBI agents across America team up with police officers, sheriff's deputies, state attorneys, Homeland Security investigators, and others for a few days of posing as people buying or selling sex. This year, "hundreds of law enforcement officials took part in sting operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and other areas frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers," the FBI reported. Seventy-four FBI-led "Child Exploitation Task Forces" orchestrated operations in 103 U.S. cities, with more than 400 different law-enforcement agencies participating in the October 13-16 efforts. And the payoff? According to the FBI, "82 sexually exploited juveniles" were recovered and "239 pimps and other individuals" arrested. The average age of the minors was just under 16-years-old. "This is a depressing day in law enforcement," said FBI Director James Comey, announcing Operation Cross Country 10 (OCCX) results at an International Association of Chiefs of Police gathering last week. Comey's right—it is a depressing day in law enforcement. But not for the reasons he would have us believe. What's depressing is watching authorities congratulate themselves—and the media follow suit—on fighting child sexual-exploitation in America when the bulk of OCCX efforts involved cops contacting adult female sex workers while posing as customers and then arresting them, if not also seizing the women's money and throwing them in jail. Take a look at just who got caught up in OCCX, by the numbers: The chart above does not reflect all minors identified or arrests made in OCCX. But of the "more than 400" U.S. law-enforcement agencies that participated, the sample I'm pulling from includes, at my best estimation, 367 of them, including divisions of 12 federal agencies (such as the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Drug Enforcement Administration). I compiled it over the past week using information from law-enforcement and media reports. It includes 79 of the FBI's stated 82 juveniles identified, ecompasses sting efforts in 30 states, and includes many metropolitan areas that are portrayed by police as hubs of human trafficking, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Within this sample, nearly three-quarters of all arrests were for simple solicitation or prostitution—that is, men and women trying to participate in consensual commercial sex. Some of the "criminals" the FBI helped take down in this operation included a homeless Wyoming woman who was allegedly selling sex and carrying marijuana and a 61-year-old woman offering sex from an upstate New York hotel room. In El Paso, "about 20 agents and officers with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, El Paso Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety took part" in a bust that led to the arrest of one 18-year-old woman on charges of fraud, theft, and tampering with government records and one 18-year-old woman for prostitution. Had the 18-year-old El Paso sex-worker been just slightly younger, the FBI could have added her to its "rescued minors" roster: Anyone under age 18 found to be offering sexual-services for pay is considered a sex-trafficking victim under federal law. It needn't require the minor to have been abducted, held captive, or coerced into the sex trade; to have a pimp; or to be working with anyone else at all. In most cases, FBI efforts to "rescue" girls starts the same as the process for busting adult women: make contact via online ad and, once [...]
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 18:47:00 -0400
(image) Adult-film star and sex educator Jessica Drake is the latest woman to accuse Donald Trump of moving on her sexually without consent. At a live Los Angeles press-conference Saturday with lawyer Gloria Allred, Drake accused the Republican presidential nominee of "uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement, and being a sexual assault apologist," and claimed he kissed her and two other women without their consent upon meeting them in 2006. Drake also said Trump offered to pay her for sex.
According to Drake, she and the other women were invited by Trump back to his Lake Tahoe hotel suite after meeting him at a golf tournament. Once there, Trump allegedly grabbed each of them tightly and kissed them. Later, a Trump representative called and invited Drake back to the suite alone, she said, but she declined—after which Trump personally called to extend the invitation. "What do you want? How much?" Trump allegedly said before offering her $10,000, which she rejected.
Drake's accusations add to the growing chorus of women from Trump's past now accusing him of kissing, grabbing, and groping them against their will. What's novel here is the allegation that Trump solicited sex for cash.
Libertarians don't think that last part should be illegal, and I guess it's not surprising that Trump doesn't, either—Trump's (handlebar-mustachioed) immigrant grandfather first made his money in America by running a Seattle brothel, after all. But Trump hasn't shown much willingness lately to buck with GOP tradition when it comes to freaking out about sex, signing a recent pledge to get tough on internet porn and repeatedly denouncing Anthony Weiner as a "pervert" for sexting.
Sexual pervert Anthony Weiner has zero business holding public office.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2013
At the press conference, Allred stressed that Drake's profession as a porn actress and director was irrelevant here. In her work, Drake consents to certain sexual activities, said Allred, while she did not agree to Trump's advances.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:52:00 -0400Backpage.com Chief Executive Carl Ferrer and the classified-ad company's former owners are seeking a dismissal of the pimping and conspiracy charges filed against them in California, which they describe as unconstitutional, unjustified by facts, and a violation of federal communications law, as well as a blatant ploy for publicity from California Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris. The state "cannot pursue the charges asserted and, in fact, is expressly precluded from doing so under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act," their attorney, James Grant, wrote in a letter to Harris, who is currently running for U.S. Congress. She can't claim ignorance: three years ago, Harris was one of several state attorneys general who pleaded with Congress to change the law so that they could prosecute Backpage, specifically admitting that, as is, Section 230 "prevents state and local law enforcement" from doing so. Congress said no. "It is troubling that the State is now pursuing a prosecution you admitted you have no authority to bring," Grant wrote. Ferrer and his co-defendants, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were booked for pimping, pimping a minor, attempted pimping of a minor, and conspiracy, based on the state's contention that they know some of the tens of millions of user-generated posts on Backpage.com are veiled ads for prostitution, sometimes involving teenagers. As evidence of this, the state pointed out that Backpage blocks ads explicitly offering prostitution, states clearly that ads in the "adult" section can only be posted by adults, and promptly removes posts that are reported to advertise sex or underage women. In the topsy-turvy logic of the criminal complaint, the fact that Backpage policies are designed to prevent commercial-sex advertising and the prostitution of minors shows that execs actually condone these things, because said policies encourage posters of illicit sex ads to conceal their true intentions. "The AG's Complaint and theory of prosecution are frankly outrageous," state the defendants in a formal objection to the changes, filed October 19. "The basis for the AG's charges is that third-party users posted ads on Backpage.com, and the AG's office determined by responding to the ads that the users were offering prostitution." In total the complaint mentions nine ads, for which Backpage received $79.60. It does not allege that Ferrer, Lacey, or Larkin knew the ad-posters were discreetly offering sex for cash, knew the ad posters personally at all, had ever seen the ads in question, or had any direct knowledge of these ads. In his letter to the AG, the Backpage attorney notes that a recent federal court ruling against the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, "reject[ed] much the same theories that [California] asserts here," and that the U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that "states cannot punish parties that publish or distribute speech without proving they had knowledge of illegality." In addition, "Section 230 expressly preempts all inconsistent civil and criminal state laws," he notes. "Literally hundreds of cases have applied and underscored the broad immunity that Section 230 provides and that Congress intended so as to avoid government interference— especially by state authorities—that would chill free speech on the Internet." Backpage itself has fought for these rights many times, winning cases in federal courts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri. But knowing the law is on their side "was of modest comfort," said Lacey and Larkin, "as we were being booked into the Sacramento County jail and paraded in front of the press in orange jump suits last week on a charge Ms. Harris knew she had no legal[...]
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 18:38:00 -0400With less than a month left until the 2016 presidential election, the focus has shifted from immigration, foreign affairs, free trade, and other (nominal) questions of policy to whether the Republican nominee is a sexual predator and how much room his opponent has to criticize him for it, given her own husband's history with women. In the wake of the release of Trump's now-infamous 2005 boasts about grabbing women "by the pussy" and kissing them "without waiting," questions surrounding sexual consent are dominating the news, with Donald Trump's defenders expected to answer for not just the candidate's own treatment of women but the lifetimes of unwanted advances many modern women have faced. At first the spectacle felt at least a little novel, and not just because of the political stakes. Most instances in which these issues penetrate the public consciousness are pre-packaged for picking a side. A woman—or multiple women, as in recent high-profile cases such as the one with Bill Cosby—comes out with a story of sexual harassment, assault, or rape; her alleged assailant denies it; and everyone falls in line to either insist we "believe women" about these things no matter what or that ladies be batshit insane attention-seekers who lie about rape all the time. But with Trump's taped comments, the same old script didn't work. For one, there was no accusatory woman to center the counter-attack on. For another, there was direct and indisputable evidence of the bad behavior in question; reasonable people can argue over how literally to take Trump's assertions, but there's no denying he said what he said. So here we all were, having a more meta conversation about consent, crossing boundaries, why women might not report things like unwanted groping to the police but still don't want (and shouldn't have) to put up with it, and what responsibility men have to call out other men for bad behavior. Here we were with prominent Republicans who heretofore been at least nominally OK with Trump now calling for his head. And here were conservative women, too, coming forward with their own tales of being manhandled, sexually harassed, or raped, and disbelieved or told it was no big deal. For a minute, many conservative women were speaking in unison with left-leaning counterparts about these issues (a phenomenon also seen, if briefly, after Trump went after Megyn Kelly and when Gretchen Carlson and other women came out against former Fox News boss Roger Ailes). People across the political spectrum could be found expressing both contempt for the fact that this was what the presidential race had come to and cautious optimism that it would, somehow, be a force for good. But that didn't last long. Within eight (long) days of the Trump pussy-grabbing comments coming out, Trump and his surrogates were trotting out women who've accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, a bevy of new allegations against Trump were aired, and before long it was back to business as usual. Republicans, including those with no love for Trump, demand that people assign more weight to the allegations against Bill, and liberals shrug. Women accuse Trump of molesting them, his detractors demand these claims be taken seriously, and conservatives shrug. Both assume the other side is simply trying to score political points, and of course both are. The women, whatever they have or have not suffered at the hands of either Donald Trump or Bill Clinton, have quickly been reduced to mere props in this familiar partisan (and ratings/clicks driven) play. The Trump campaign's decision to defend their man by deflecting blame to Bill is understandable—after all, Trump was initially being pilloried mostly f[...]