Here’s one for the sex trade! In the past, we have discussed many times the various, and in my opinion, faulty rationales for keeping prostitution illegal. One of those rationales has been that prostitutes are, per se, victims. They are exploited and forced to perform sex acts for money. The thought seems to have been that being a prostitute is definitional of losing one’s will and performing the evil deeds by force.
Well, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled against this equation. It has thrown out the convictions of a pimp and a madam (hereinafter, the “Defendants”), ruling that the couple did not lure a homeless and drug-addicted teenager into prostitution because the 16-year-old runaway had sold her body for money in the past.
The court did, however, let stand the Defendants’ convictions for deriving support from prostitution and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The allegations in the case were that the Defendants drove the teen to the hotel where she met an undercover detective and agreed to engage in sex for $280, according to court records. Using a ruse, the officer convinced the teen to leave the hotel before any sexual acts occurred. The teen then apparently handed the cash the Defendants, who were waiting in the hotel parking lot
The court found, “We think that the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous and that it clearly expresses the Legislature’s intent to penalize a person for inducing a minor, who is not then so engaged, to engage in the commercial enterprise of prostitution by offering for hire his or her body for indiscriminate sexual activity”.
As a Boston sex crimes criminal defense attorney for over twenty years, not to mention previous years as a prosecutor, I have been involved in a number of cases involving prostitution.
I agree that it is worth prosecuting those who force anyone into prostitution, or aid children in engaging in the trade is worthwhile. However, the attempts to combat those situations are diluted and tainted when we open the broad scope of assuming that every prostitute is a victim and must be saved from themselves, if not everyone else. In fact, it perverts the very effort of female dignity assuming that a woman could never make such a choice herself with sound reason.
In this case, the Appeals Court did not make new law or break new ground. It did, however, enforce the law as it was meant when it was written, rather than simply cave in to public sentiment.
Playing the devil’s advocate (something most people would say I do every day in my line of work), there is an interesting argument that could be made against the court’s ruling. As you know, in matters sexual, we tend to believe that a minor cannot consent to sex. Under the law, it does not even matter if the sex-mate knows that the minor is under age. In fact, it does not even matter if the minor lied and “proved” she was of age.
Sex with a minor, with or without her preferred consent, is rape. Pure and simple.
Couldn’t one argue that, since the prostitute here was a minor, she had to be induced, because any participation with her in the sex trade is manipulating her because she has no ability to consent?
After all, under the law, any customer who had sex with a minor should be not only guilty of prostitution, but also rape.
The language and rationale of the laws and how our law enforcement agencies choose to implement them is a pretty thick and, often, confusing forest.
This is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help light your way through it.
If you would like to discuss my lighting your way, please feel to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
To view the original story in which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/01/by_john_r_ellem_29.html