This article is presented in its entirety- it was originally written for the Fair Observer but was edited to fit their format and is available in two parts.
ECONOMIC COERCION: EXPLOITATION, DEGRADATION AND VIOLENCE
In 1972, at the age of 21, while I was still married, I started working the streets of Hollywood. How did a nice Christian girl like me get there? When I discovered my husband had cheated on me with someone I loved, I left him. There was no violence between us- he never beat me or anything, but I couldn’t stay.
My soon to be ex had a good paying career in construction; but before going out on my own, I would need to find good paying work to become independent so I could leave him. It wouldn’t hurt if the job allowed me to meet other men- lots of them- and maybe I would find one that wouldn’t be such a jerk.
Out of economic desperation, I accepted ‘employment’ which I knew was extremely dangerous. I didn’t care. I needed a job, and this was the best and perhaps only option I had without a college education and few marketable skills. I couldn’t type and I hated waiting tables- a job that I had- and despised- throughout my high school years. When I told my family about the ‘job’ and the kind of work I would be doing, everyone, especially my mother, worried that I might get hurt or even killed. People doing this type of ‘work’ were easy targets, and many others who had worked in this ‘profession’ had been murdered on the job. Nevertheless, I was over 21 and no one could tell me what to do even if it wasn’t the wisest decision I ever made.
And that’s how I found myself working the mean streets of Hollywood for some of the nastiest, most corrupt people I have ever known. While we were out on the streets, I and my colleagues were expected to wear these matching ‘uniforms’ so we could be easily identified as ‘belonging’ to them. I wasn’t particularly happy doing what I was doing; If someone had come along and offered me a better job, I would have been out of there in a New York minute.
In the beginning, things weren’t so bad. I got to know some of the women I worked with - and even made a few friends. I soon learned that I couldn’t trust any of them- particularly the older ones, who saw me as a threat. I also found out the hard way not to ever leave anything of value where any of them had access to my stuff. Perhaps it was because many of my ‘co-workers’ were alcoholics and a number of them had taken to using drugs. Given our line of work and the stress it caused, this was not surprising and apparently not uncommon.
I am glad I never took up any of those vices, no matter how bad things got in my life on the streets. My friends and co-workers called me a square because I didn’t smoke and never even tried drugs, and only briefly did I ever drink alcohol because I found that I hated the taste. Drinking, smoking and drugs never interested me because I saw how quickly they aged a woman’s face. I guess you could say that vanity kept me from indulging in those things.
For a few years I worked days- rather boring and not much action. Then my ‘employer’ assigned me to working nights. It was far more dangerous being out there at night, on the street alone, but I preferred it to working during the day. Street life at night in Hollywood where I worked most of the time was exciting and filled with interesting and colorful people. I suppose some might have considered me one of those colorful individuals. On the weekends, things got really crazy; that’s when I had the most action. Rival gangs and drive-by shootings, revenge killings in ethnic restaurants... all part of a Friday and Saturday night in Hollywood.
I quickly became one of the highest ‘earners’ for my ‘bosses’ (I worked for more than one 'boss')- making thousands of dollars a night for them and their ‘associates.’ Of course I received only a tiny fraction of what I earned for the bosses and their ‘business’ friends, but I knew upfront the way this business was run. As long as I earned enough to pay my rent and buy groceries and a car, I didn’t care what percentage of the money I made for them was given back to me. Was I being exploited?
And as you can imagine, I did meet a lot of guys- mostly married of course, but that didn’t matter. Back then, I didn’t worry about STDs and I never practiced safe sex... in fact, I didn’t know anything about STDs or condoms... I was THAT naive. Out of all the men I ‘dated’ during those years, I can think of only one who cared at all about me or my sexual needs. Usually it was a very quick encounter at my apartment, which was not far from where I met them. After our brief dalliances, the guys said they had to get home to their wives. Did I feel used? Well, yes I did... I knew I was nothing but a sex object to them.
Despite the number of guys I ‘dated’ I was very fortunate that I never contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Of course most of my ‘encounters’ with these men involved oral copulation, which was still a felony in 1972 when I began my ‘career.’ People could go to prison for 5 years or more- even if it was oral sex between a husband or wife. It was not until 1975 that oral sex between consenting adults was decriminalized in California. Prostitution was a misdemeanor.
Many of the business owners on Hollywood Blvd. didn’t like my being in front of their stores conducting MY business, because my presence frightened away their customers. But their customers were also my potential customers, although I am certain they did not look at it that way. I can see why they might have considered me a nuisance. However, I had just as much right to be there as they did.
One night, this one particular business owner decided he was going to get back at me for all the customers I cost him. His car was parked in front of his business, and when he saw me walking toward his store, he came running out, knocked me into the street, got into his car and attempted to run me over.
I called the cops, who came and took a report, but since I wasn’t really hurt, they didn’t arrest him- instead they gave him a summons. The case eventually did go to court, but this man was a member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and in the court’s eyes, who was I to make a complaint against him? I had witnesses too, but he was not convicted. I wanted to sue him but my ‘bosses’ told me that I was their property and they forbade me from filing a lawsuit. That’s when I realized how little my ‘employers’ cared about me or my safety.
My ‘work’ area wasn’t limited to Hollywood Blvd. Many times I was sent on calls to private homes in the middle of the night, and I never knew who was going to open the door or what I would encounter. There were times when those late night calls included dead bodies and stolen cars, houses on fire and people being shot, stabbed or bludgeoned to death. In fact, one night I was sent on a call to porn star John Holmes’ house on Wonderland Drive. It was July 1, 1981, the night that four of his guests were brutally murdered. It became known as the ‘Laurel Canyon Murders’ or the ‘Wonderland Drive Murders.’ Fortunately I arrived after it all happened and I wasn’t really in any danger, or so I told myself.
My ‘bosses’ had many other employees doing different types of jobs for them, and most of those employees were males. I knew they were involved in some shady and down right seriously criminal activities. Whether or not the bosses at the top knew what serious crimes these guys were committing, I don’t know. I found it difficult to believe that they did not. I knew that I felt very uncomfortable working with them, but what could I do? I needed this ‘job’!
Some of my ‘colleagues’ were running a burglary ring, a murder for hire ring, stealing drugs from drug dealers and selling them to people in the movie industry. The drug dealers who got ripped off knew better than to complain. These guys were ruthless and had serious connections. They could kill people and totally get away with it, make it look like an accident and no one would question it.
And while there were plenty of hot women who were more than willing to provide them with free sex, a number of these guys preferred hosting late night parties with very young girls. Yes, they were having sex with those girls... and a few with young boys. Some of them got caught - but nobody went to prison. The bosses were pissed and fired a few of them, because they were embarrassing 'the company.’ Ten years later, this one guy who hadn’t been fired the first time, got caught with a minor a second time. He had been having sex with this 15 year old girl for 5 years- which means she was 10 when they started. This time the bosses let him go- and he was arrested because the story made the news. The judge gave him five years probation because the girl would not testify against him. Those guys had some very powerful friends in high places!
While I was very much aware of what these guys were doing- and these were not victimless crimes- there was no one I could talk to about those crimes or I might end up dead, just as others had. Even though I knew a lot of cops through my work, I could trust none of them. Years later after I stopped working the streets, I learned from a very prominent Los Angeles attorney that four call girls had filed criminal complaints against some cops who had sex with them and then arrested them. All four of those women had ‘fatal car accidents.’ Problem solved.
Unfortunately, those four weren’t the only sex workers who wound up dead under suspicious circumstances. Many of the Hollywood Division cops were taking street prostitutes up to Griffith Park for sex in exchange for not arresting them. Sandra Bowers was one of them, and she was a key witness in the police scandal that broke in the early part of 1982. She was found murdered in one of the sleazy motels on Sunset Blvd. She had been stabbed and her throat slit- perhaps as a warning to others to keep their mouths shut.
Altogether I was out on the streets for 10 years. I knew within the first five years that I made a big mistake taking this job. I wasn’t cut out for this type of work, especially where I was expected to look the other way when I knew of serious crimes being committed by my ‘associates.’ But I thought I had no options - and I certainly had no back up plan. If I left, what would I do? I wasn’t getting any younger and this job had not added any viable skills to my resume. Not only was I getting older, but I had been involved in a few traffic accidents during my time on the streets, and had back problems that plagued me then and still do. One of those accidents put me in a wheelchair for a short time. Who would hire someone with few skills and a bad back?
Sometimes life has a funny way of fixing things we aren’t willing to fix for ourselves. Just after 11:00 pm on April 18, 1982, I was driving east on Hollywood Blvd just past La Brea Ave. heading for a private call somewhere up in the Hollywood Hills. Seemingly out of nowhere a car drove up behind me and rear ended my car. Turns out he was a drunk driver in a stolen car with with stolen property. There were some cops nearby who heard the crash and saw the car that hit me taking off at a high rate of speed. They started chasing him around the block several times in what looked like a scene out of a Keystone Cops movie. Around and around the same block they went... he wasn’t going to stop willingly.
Finally they caught and arrested him, leaving me to wait for an ambulance to be taken to the ER. I was X-rayed and thoroughly examined and then, at around three am, I was allowed to go home. Thankfully I did not have any serious physical injuries other than re-injuring my back.
Inside, however, I was falling apart. I could no longer handle the emotional damage caused by being part of this criminal enterprise. I was severely traumatized and had been for years. I was seeing a therapist regularly who encouraged me to leave that job. PTSD was not yet in vogue as a psychological disorder caused by emotional trauma, but there is no doubt in my mind that I was suffering from it. I had bouts of serious depression, I lost my coping mechanisms and cried at the least provocation. I had nightmares about work and feared that someone I worked with would discover what I knew about their activities and I would meet the same fate as others did who knew too much.
The events of that night in April 1982 set me on an entirely different path from the one I had chosen 10 years earlier. I was determined to leave that life behind forever and find some other way to earn a living, something much more honest. And I vowed to tell the public about the crime and corruption in which my ‘colleagues’ were involved. For a number of years, I had been keeping copious notes about what I saw and heard on the streets, with the intent to write a book about my ‘employer’ and the thugs who worked for him. Maybe people would listen, maybe not- still, I had to try. Little did I know that my literary efforts to expose the crimes committed by those with whom I worked would ultimately get me sent to prison.
For the first time in years, I went home in a really good mood. I knew that I was finally through with that life and was ‘getting out’ for good. I hated the job, despised the people with whom I worked and would rather do ANYTHING else not to return to this 'lifestyle.' Whatever came after had to be so much better than what the past ten years had been!
Despite the lateness of the hour and being in severe pain, there were things I had to do to ensure I did not change my mind. Taking a pair of heavy duty scissors, I cut up my shoes and my uniform as a symbolic gesture of defiance and to cement my decision to never go back to work for my ‘employer’ again. I did not know what I was going to do with the rest of my life, but of one thing I was very certain... I was never going to work for the LAPD again.
Oh... you didn’t see that coming? That the criminal organization I described, what I call the ‘Blue Mafia,’ was the Los Angeles Police Department? The job I had working for the LAPD was as a civilian traffic officer, because in 1972, women were not hired to be police officers. Even if women could be hired as ‘policewomen,’ the height requirement at the time for all sworn officers was 5’8.” I am 5’4”and will never be any taller. Fortunately for me, there was no height requirement for being a call girl, which is the career path I chose after my ten disastrous years on the police department. It really wasn’t difficult to transition into sex work, and I found that I was well suited to the work. It was the best job I ever had... the one in which I felt I had more control over my life than I had ever before experienced. And it was certainly much more honest.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER VICTIMS OF 'ECONOMIC DESPERATION,' VIOLENCE AND ABUSE- DO THEY NOT MATTER TO PROSTITUTION ABOLITIONISTS?
I won’t go into details about my upward career move, from working on the streets of Hollywood to becoming a high class call girl, because I’ve already written a book on the subject. There are much more important issues that need addressing regarding the harm caused by the abolitionist crusade against sex work. If you are interested in reading more about that part of my life, my book “Cop to Call Girl- Why I Left the LAPD to Make an Honest Living as a Beverly Hills Prostitute” was published by Simon and Schuster in 1993. The book is still available in hardcover and paperback from Amazon and other sources. No, I do not get royalties from those book sales, so it makes no difference to me if you buy it or not. Much of my personal history can also be found on my bio page (www.normajeanalmodovar.com/mybio.html). You can learn more about the crimes committed by my former LAPD colleagues on my website: Norma Jean and the Hollywood Corruption Scandal.
Sex worker rights activism and being an advocate for a change in laws which criminalize any part of consensual adult commercial sex was my objective from the first day I started working as a prostitute. Decriminalizing prostitution will not in any way benefit me financially, as I retired from sex work years ago. However, I believe in a woman’s right to control her own life and body, and that ‘choice’ means ‘choice’ and not what someone else chooses for me. I am passionate about overturning laws which prohibit consenting adults from engaging in commercial sex. Such laws are harmful to all of society and for so many reasons, need to be repealed. Sex work and sex trafficking are not the same, but because there are so very few real victims, prostitution abolitionists and law enforcement agencies must conflate the two to create the illusion that there are hundreds of thousands of ‘sex slaves’ around the world just waiting to be rescued. All they need is MORE MONEY!
In the narrative relating my experience working the streets of Hollywood for the LAPD, I addressed every element of every fatuous theory promoted by radical feminists/ progressives and religious conservatives alike for the continued criminalization of consenting adult prostitution: the work is dangerous; hating one’s work; the objectification of women; being economically coerced to do the work; the ‘exploitation of the worker’ where the employer takes most of the employee’s ‘earnings’ and receives a fraction in return; the employer’s lack of concern for the well being of the worker; not practicing safe sex; engaging in so called immoral behavior (adultery and fornication); child sexual exploitation; the stress of the work leading to PTSD, and so on.
I experienced first hand every single component of those inane arguments which these ‘victim pimps’ attribute to sex work but are situations found in so many other types of labor. I was not considered a ‘victim’ for having ‘no other options’ or being ‘economically coerced’ into taking the job, hating the job and wishing I could be doing ANYTHING else; not receiving much of the money I earned writing thousands of tickets for the city of LA; being in a very dangerous work environment- and most of all, no one wanted to arrest me to ‘protect me for my own good.’ No one sought to ‘create awareness’ of how dangerous such work could be, or discourage other women from seeking such employment by disallowing safer working conditions for women who chose that work.
Surely if the goal of either the religious conservatives or the progressive radical feminists was to protect women from danger and potential abuse, they would seek to protect ALL women who are at risk. But that is not their goal, as is clear from the court case in Canada brought by sex workers who wish to make their jobs safer. June 16, 2011: “Nobody cares about safety of sex workers, court hears” - ...the Catholic Church thinks sex workers ought to continue being harmed as that will discourage other women from entering a dangerous profession... ‘Prostitution is immoral and should be eradicated through strict laws, even if that leaves sex trade workers vulnerable to attack,’ argued Ranjan Agarwal, a lawyer representing the Christian Legal Fellowship, Catholic Rights League and REAL Women of Canada. ‘Parliament intended to eradicate prostitution’ by enacting these laws because it is ‘an attack on the fundamental values of modern Canadian society...’ But, asked Justice David Doherty, what if that meant sex workers die as a result, wouldn’t that be harm out of proportion from the intended good? ‘No,’ Mr. Agarwal said, such an outcome is a ‘sad side effect,’ and it was better for Parliament to ‘send a signal’ to anyone thinking of entering the sex trade that there was great risk involved.” Risk such as I was taking when I worked for the LAPD?
All of these rationales for prohibiting prostitution could apply to the work and life experiences of millions of women in many other types of labor, including the military (rape and PTSD, danger), taxi driving (homicide, rape, robbery, danger), law enforcement (from civilian to sworn officers), domestic servitude (rape, danger, slavery, the desire to be doing ANYTHING other than cleaning toilets and scraping off dried feces, urine and vomit of strangers), and so many other jobs and circumstances.
In its 2012 Summary Report, the US Government claimed that in 2006, there were an estimated 673,000 college women raped. Should those shocking statistics be used to forbid women from obtaining a higher education? Or would those numbers indicate that more must be done to keep college women safe?
‘Progressive’ prostitution abolitionists contend that “prostitution is violence against women.” The World Health Organization recently (June 20, 2013) reported its findings on violence against women. According to them, 33% of all women world wide are victims of violence sometime in their life. And 29% of victims of violence at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends. That’s hundreds of millions of women who are violently victimized by someone in their life- approximately 869,045,564 victims of violence worldwide, based on the world population estimates.
TO HELP PROSTITUTES 'REALIZE' THEY ARE VICTIMS, MUST THEY BE ARRESTED AND THREATENED WITH INCARCERATION IF THEY DON'T ACCEPT THEIR 'VICTIMHOOD'?
Prostitution abolitionists also hypothesize that ‘prostitution is like rape...’ although anyone who has ever been raped or sexually assaulted may not agree with that assessment. There is no question that being raped is very traumatic. But is prostitution still ‘like rape’ when the prostitute says “Nope, that’s not what’s happening?” Denver Colorado vice Lieutenant Aaron Sanchez says: “Prostitutes are not friendly. It’s not like you’re talking to a child-abuse victim or a fifteen-year-old sex assault victim who wants to cry out and wants to explain what happened or is just scared. These girls just flat out say, ‘Nope, that’s NOT what’s happening.’ We have to help them realize they are victims.” Oh?
How do cops intend to ‘help’ us realize we are victims? By arresting us? Putting us in jail where we are quite likely to be raped by the staff? Or turned into the ‘sex slaves’ of the sheriff in charge of the jail? and sent to solitary confinement if we report the rapes? or take us off the prison grounds to work as prostitutes for those who run the place?
Over the past 21 years, from 1991 to 2011, in the US, there were 5,319,726 reported violent rapes and sexual assaults, but the police managed to apprehend only 601,745 alleged rapists (or 11.3%), leaving 4,717,981 rape victims without justice.
If ‘prostitution is like rape,’ why ‘proactive’ enforcement of prostitution laws if the prostitute has not claimed to be a victim? For all other violent rapes, sexual assaults and domestic violence, a victim must first report the crime before the police are permitted to begin an investigation. And unfortunately, quite often even when those victims do report crimes against them, the police do not investigate beyond an initial query. If they don’t believe the victim, as happens in so many cases of rape and domestic violence, the investigation stops.
Even worse for the rape victim who undergoes an intrusive and traumatic procedure to obtain DNA evidence for a ‘rape kit,’ very often the rape kits are not tested ever and instead are shelved in police evidence lockers where the DNA material begins to degrade. If the rape kit is ever tested, it may not produce any viable evidence that could lead to a conviction. There are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the US at this time, and no plans to test them because of lack of resources to do so. Detroit Michigan prosecutor Kim Worthy has attempted to raise money to have the backlog of over 11,000 rape kits tested, but has managed to send only a fraction of them (600) to the lab. In the most recent ‘wave’ of 200 kits tested, 21 serial rapists were among the 153 test results. One of the serial rapists and killer of five prostitutes was Shelly A. Brooks. Said Prosecutor Worthy, “If the rape kits were analyzed in a timely fashion, these five women would still be alive.”
Some might argue that if those prostitutes had been arrested and incarcerated- for their own safety of course- they might be alive...
IF ARREST AND INCARCERATION IS A VIABLE SOLUTION FOR PROTECTING PROSTITUTES FROM VIOLENCE, SHOULDN'T WE ARREST AND INCARCERATE OTHER VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE, INCLUDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
...if cops had arrested and incarcerated the wife of Tacoma (WA) Police Chief David Brame for her own good, she might also still be alive. Crystal Brame “told a counselor's answering machine the day before she was shot that her husband, the Tacoma Police Chief, had threatened her and that she had increased concerns about her safety. The next day, David Brame fatally shot her before turning his gun on himself. The message was recorded after news of the Brames' messy divorce filing broke in local publications, and Mrs. Brame, 35, was worried about her husband’s past threats.” Should the police arrest and incarcerate all potential victims of violence, or just sex workers?
Crystal Brame is hardly the only wife of a law enforcement agent to be the recipient of violence at the hands of the cop spouse: "Domestic violence is far more common among the families of police officers than among the rest of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Women and Policing. At least 40% of police families are affected by domestic violence, as opposed to an estimated 10% in other households..." October 30, 2011 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [we note that there are an estimated 900,000 local, state and federal law enforcement agents; 40% of those police families would be about 360,000 families affected by domestic violence- most of which goes unreported because if the wife reports the violence, her husband can lose his job if he is no longer allowed to carry a gun. Not to mention that his fellow officers are reluctant to arrest one of their own, and in smaller departments, the city itself cannot afford to lose an officer and hire and train a replacement.]
We see similarly high levels of domestic violence in other professions which generate significant levels of testosterone. Boxing and other violent sports are particularly notorious for producing wife/ girlfriend beating athletes, who, despite their private violence, are much beloved of their fans and sports writers. In 2010, Floyd Mayweather- a boxing champion known for his violent temper- was suspected of beating his girlfriend. The woman had called the police after the abuser left her home, and she was taken to the hospital “for treatment for injuries which were not described as serious.” Later that year, Mayweather was charged with multiple felonies involving domestic violence against the same girlfriend. He was convicted of domestic violence and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
However, the judge delayed imposition of the sentence until after the long scheduled boxing match took place, an event in which millions of dollars of revenue for television broadcast, hotels, bookies and other Las Vegas businesses were at stake. This man and many other boxers, football players, wrestlers and other athletes represent a serious threat to women in their private lives, as noted by sports writer Paul Magno, in his May 2, 2013 Yahoo Sports piece about the verbal harassment inflicted on Mayweather by his opponent’s father. Ruben Guerrero blasted Mayweather as a wife beater, which he is. But Paul Magno says that what boxers and other athletes do in their personal life (beating their wives and girlfriends) should not detract from “their brilliance inside the ring.” He lists other boxers who were violent outside the ring, and mentions that he “had recently been approached with a hot tip about a promising, well known young fighter who had been arrested on a domestic violence charge... It would have been big news... Ultimately I decided to sit on the story and not go public. At the end of the day, it just had nothing to do with the sport or anything even remotely pertaining to the business...”
Meanwhile, other journalists such as John Smith, in his August 4, 2013 column in the Daily Beast, opine about the sex and violence in Las Vegas and the ‘dark underbelly of the sex industry.’ Smith encourages the cops to go after any alleged ‘pimp’ regardless of whether or not a sex worker claimed to be a victim of violence at the hands of anyone, and some of the comments suggest that all ‘pimps’ ought to be executed and buried underneath the jail. The lack of a criminal complaint or non existent evidence of violence in a prostitution case is irrelevant. Apparently, a preponderance of evidence of violence in the private relationship of ‘much beloved athletes’ is also irrelevant.
The police do not enter the private homes of these ‘beloved’ wife beaters and remove the ‘victims’ involuntarily. The ‘victims’ would be the wives and girlfriends who remain with their sports figure abusers despite the number of times they or their children are physically pummeled by the man whose personal life and violence are, in Magno’s opinion, ‘none of the public’s business.’ Nor do the cops threaten the victims with incarceration if they do not testify against their bread winning spouse or boyfriend. Why is that, when it works so well to stop the alleged violence within sex work?
BUT AREN'T YOUNG CHILDREN BEING FORCED INTO PROSTITUTION, AND SHOULDN'T WE ARREST CONSENTING ADULTS TO HELP STOP THE SEX TRAFFICKING OF MINORS?
Well, you ask, what about the ‘children’? There are so many specious claims regarding the involvement of minors in sex trafficking, that would be an article all by itself. From the fictitious assertion that ‘the average age of entry into prostitution is 12/ 13/ 14 to the fraudulent claim endlessly repeated by ‘journalist’ after ‘journalist’ that there are between ‘100,000 to 300,000’ children trafficked into the sex industry every year, the ‘victim pimps’ know exactly what buttons to push to obtain their desired result- more funding. The statistic came from a study which actually said that there were between 100,000 to 300,000 juveniles AT RISK for being trafficked, not who were trafficked.
When one examines the numbers from on the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, it becomes clear that none of it is true. Aside from the fact that the oft cited ‘average age of entry’ statistic was from a study of juvenile prostitutes, analyzing 31 years of male and female prostitution arrest statistics, it is not possible for the ‘average age of entry’ into prostitution to be anything lower than 17 for juvenile prostitutes. For female prostitutes of all ages, the average age appears to be between 25 and 29. Our spreadsheet containing the FBI statistics of arrests by age, gender and year from 1981 to 2011 prove that there very few minors in prostitution, despite hysterical claims to the contrary.
The US Government also reports that the majority of predators of children are people whom the child knows and trusts: “Despite what children are taught about "stranger danger," most child victims are abused by someone they know and trust. When the abuser is not a family member, the victim is more often a boy than a girl...
- 96% were known to their victims
- 50% were acquaintances or friends
- 20% were fathers
- 16% were relatives
- 4% were strangers”
Unfortunately for many of those victims, the predators who sexually abuse them are law enforcement agents, members of the clergy and teachers and other ‘pillars of the community.’ What are those victims to think when law enforcement agents who rape 3 year old children are given probation sentences and another cop who molested more than one child- ages 5 and 8, is facing a mere 3 years behind bars, while pandering States’ Attorneys General are grandstanding with their lawsuit against backpage.com and passing ‘anti- trafficking’ laws to send those who buy the sexual services of ADULT prostitutes to prison for decades?
The selective ‘concern for the children’ expressed by politicians and prostitution abolitionists alike has nothing to do with protecting children. It is and always has been a none too subtle crusade against consenting adult commercial sex, either for religious “moral” reasons or progressive/ radical feminist “social” reasons which assert that prostitution is an institution of 'patriarchal objectification of women.' In the radical feminist quest to abolish all forms of commercial sex, sex workers have been turned into “victim objects” who are, in the view of these ‘feminists,’ no more worthy of being viewed as individuals with our own values and opinions than in the patriarchal ‘oppression’ model which, according to these feminists, has turned all women into ‘sex objects.’ Quite honestly, I would rather be considered a ‘sex object’ and have financial resources which are unavailable to me in jobs with less ‘sexual objectification’ than to be a homeless ‘victim object’ which their ideology renders me.
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IF PROSTITUTION IS 'LIKE RAPE' WHY DON'T WE PURSUE AND PUNISH ACTUAL RAPISTS WHEN A RAPE IS REPORTED TO THE POLICE?
Returning to the issue of reported incidents of rape and sexual assaults, in 2011, the FBI Bureau of Justice Statistics said there were 243,800 reported violent rapes and sexual assaults in the US. Of those reported crimes, the police managed to arrest a mere 14,943 alleged rapists- or 6.1%. What must go on in the minds of those victims of violent rape, sexual assault and domestic violence- whose cases go unsolved and rapists/ husbands/ boyfriends go unpunished because of lack of resources- when they discover that they are at the very bottom of the list of law enforcement priorities? Or that society deems it more important to allocate the few available resources for the pursuit, arrest, prosecution and punishment of either the prostitutes or the non violent, non abusive clients of adult women who have not reported being a victim of their clients? And what of the prostitutes who are raped by law enforcement agents and who are told that their cases may be too difficult to prosecute because no one will believe that they were raped by a cop? Realistically though, I suppose that one cannot expect the prosecution of a predator with a badge if prosecutors are not going to pursue the rapists of non prostitute women.
HOW VICE LAWS ARE ENFORCED AND THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:
Which brings me to the point of this article... All other issues aside- and there are many- the primary reason that so called ‘vice laws’ are extremely harmful to society as a whole and to sex workers in particular, is because such laws always have and always will engender corruption in all areas of the criminal justice system. There are so many ‘law’ breakers whose only ‘victim’ is themself- from drug use to hiring prostitutes, illegal sports betting and poker games, that such laws which prohibit ‘vice’ activities can only be enforced arbitrarily and selectively. Simply put, there are not sufficient resources, law enforcement agents, prosecutors or jail space to enforce them any other way.
If cops stopped enforcing all other laws, such as rape, robbery, domestic violence and even murder, to devote all their time and energy to arrest ONLY those violating ‘vice’ laws (drugs, gambling and prostitution), and prosecutors presented no other criminals to judges or juries, and we emptied out all the prisons and jails of serious predators, there would still not be enough resources to enforce vice laws without cops and prosecutors selectively deciding which prostitutes, madams or clients, which drug users or their suppliers, which poker players or the host of an illegal poker game ought to be arrested, prosecuted and punished.
Any law which can be selectively enforced provides the prime opportunity and motivation for cops to look the other way in exchange for money, sex, information, etc. Once a cop has been compromised, there is no reason to stop with just the ‘vice’ laws. In for a penny, in for a pound... if they are risking it all for sex or a few hundred dollars from a call girl or madam, why not go for the brass ring?
I used to believe that law enforcement agents would allow only ‘vice’ laws to be broken in the pursuit of the perks of their profession: sex, money and information. But the recent “Whitey” Bolger trial in Boston, MA, shows that some law enforcement agents are willing to overlook past, present and future homicides and other serious crimes committed by their informants.
Says Harvey Silverglate in his July 31, 2013 Forbes article, “Now that the trial of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger is grinding to its conclusion, the morally bankrupt dealings of the Boston branch of the FBI and its favorite local informants are once again making front-page news. Bulger is facing federal racketeering charges based on his alleged loansharking, extortion, distribution of illegal drugs, shakedowns of local drug dealers and at least 19 murders... The FBI’s culpability comes from its agreement to protect Bulger and his associates from local, state and other federal agencies’ investigations into their moneymaking schemes and murders. In exchange for this protection, Bulger passed along tips that helped the FBI take down the once-powerful Boston branch of the Patriarca New England Mafia crime family... FBI handlers also passed tips to Bulger about his rivals and enemies, many of whom ended up in shallow graves around the Boston area not long after. As a result of this corrupt partnership... the FBI received widespread adulation for eliminating the Boston Mafia, while Bulger and his Winter Hill gang eliminated the competition for their lucrative rackets.”
Most of those ‘rackets’ involved ‘vice’ activity. Thanks to the Volstead Act, gangsters/ mobsters proliferated by providing many members of society with the prohibited booze they desired, and once entrenched- thanks to payoffs to easily bribed politicians, cops, courts, judges and prosecutors- the mobsters never retreated. When the prohibition of alcohol ended, mobsters simply moved their business interests to other equally lucrative prohibited vices, and continued to pay off the necessary government agents. “As with most cases of failed social engineering, the people who advocated Prohibition suffered from a conceit that it would work exactly as intended.” Human nature being what it is, that includes the prohibition of prostitution and drugs.
To make prostitution 'busts,' the cops review online adult ads to decide whom they want to arrest that night, then set up an elaborate sting operation, and sometimes, in playing the role of a client, actually have sex with a ‘suspected prostitute’ in order to make an arrest. In other cases, cops are allowed to hire ‘civic minded’ men from the community to have sex with a ‘suspected prostitute’ and then testify against her. The man is paid by the taxpayers to have sex, which technically makes HIM a prostitute, too. Is it less ‘immoral’ if the recipient of sexual services is ONLY allowing himself to enjoy a ‘happy ending’ for the good of the community? What does it make the taxpayer who foots the bill for someone else’s sexual pleasure?
You might wonder what factors in the decision of which ‘victim/ prostitutes’ or drug users or drug dealers or gamblers to arrest and which ones to allow to be ‘exploited’ and continue committing their ‘crimes’ without being arrested? For prostitution, it works like this: if the sex worker is willing to comply with an officer’s request for a ‘free sample’ (under threat of arrest or worse), the sex worker may stave off an arrest for the time being. The cops may offer to protect the sex worker from other rapist cops, and even offer to pay the sex worker if the sex worker agrees to become an informant.
On April 9, 1987, the LA Times reported that the US Federal Appeals Court ruled that cops can hire prostitutes to have sex with other alleged criminals, in order to help the cops ‘ferret out’ other criminals, such as drug dealers. So, if you are a sex worker and are interested in making some money ‘honestly’- that is, court approved payments for prostitution activity with money from the taxpayer, this might be an incredible opportunity. However, the strings attached to the deal will never go away. If you stop for one moment upholding your end of the Faustian bargain, you lose all expectation of being ‘protected from arrest’ or allowed to ‘break the law’ on your own.
In California, pandering and pimping, both considered serious felonies, carry mandatory lengthy prison sentences even on the first offense, although you can commit rape, robbery assault and mayhem, and if no gun is involved, you can receive probation. The stiff penalties for the ‘management’ end of prostitution activities is not for the protection of the prostitute, but rather provide the cops/ prosecutors with a heavy duty bargaining tool.
A prime example of how this works is the case of notorious Beverly Hills Madam Alex, Heidi Fleiss’ predecessor. Alex was allowed to operate her business for over 25 years, pandering and pimping away with the blessing of the LAPD, as long as she continued to give her ‘handlers’ good information about her clients or other madams or even those call girls who worked for her. Madam Alex was so valuable to the cops to whom she provided information, the cops allowed her to operate her million dollar business ‘pimping and pandering’ (what the government calls ‘exploitation of women’) to the wealthy and elite of LA (and around the world) even as they arrested, prosecuted and punished many other ‘pimps’ and ‘panderers.’ Getting the government to put your rivals out of business so you have no competition- priceless!
Alex was arrested in 1989 by vice cop Fred Clapp when she stopped giving information to him (on her case folder, he noted “no contact- inactive- should go to jail...”). Other cops to whom she was still providing ‘valuable services/ information’ went to her defense. During the hearing for the motion to dismiss the charges against her, veteran LAPD Detective Daniel Lott told the judge, ‘“She was the best informant I ever met....We considered Betty (her real name was Elizabeth Adams) as an undercover agent... The information we gleaned from her far surpassed what she was doing, in total benefit...” Alex did not deny she was a madam and financially benefitting from her pandering and pimping, but she maintained that she did business under an informal agreement with the police that her informant role would protect her from prosecution.’ LA Times, May 19, 1990.
THE USE OF PROSTITUTES AS INFORMANTS IS WIDESPREAD AS IS THE HIRING OF PROSTITUTES BY COPS, POLITICIANS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
Los Angeles was hardly the only city which protected from arrest and prosecution those who offered something ‘valuable’ to the cops. In the September 30th, 1990 San Diego Union (A-9), San Diego’s then Chief of Police, Bob Burgreen, noted that “‘dealing with prostitutes, especially on an informant basis, is a very large part of our business’ and that perhaps citizens in a largely conservative community like San Diego might have a hard time understanding that...”
Prostitutes were routinely hired by cops for parties and special occasions, as noted by retired cop turned author Mike Rothmiller as well as a not so famous retired cop named Ed Schooling. Said Mr. Schooling, "cops marriages fell apart....when it was exposed (by Mr. Schooling) they were using prostitutes at LAPD parties. Others who attended these parties were local FBI and DEA agents."
Some may have questioned that accusation prior to the Secret Service prostitute scandal in Columbia and the disclosure of other government officials, DEA agents and elected politicians and ambassadors hiring the services of prostitutes, but it is not so easy to dismiss those allegations now that the world is aware of Client number 9 Eliot Spitzer, diaper man Senator David Vitter and so many others. The face these pillars of the community put forward to the world is the one which condemns all prostitution as ‘human trafficking’ and ‘sex slavery.’ The face sex workers see is one of lies, lust and hypocrisy. As Eliot Spitzer so eloquently put it, “We have within us all drives, urges which should be tempered, controlled, modulated, held in check that I did not...” In otherwords, everyone else should do as I say, not as I do. ‘“As attorney general Mr. Spitzer also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force... In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island. “This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. “It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”’ And he was nothing more than a client and moral hypocrite.
None of these high profile cases resulted in the arrest or incarceration of the client, even when federal felony laws were broken. In Spitzer’s case, he violated the Mann Act by arranging for his ‘sex slaves’ to meet him out of state: in Washington DC and in Florida, where he apparently enjoyed may of his illicit trysts.
WHAT ABOUT THE SO CALLED SWEDISH MODEL? WHY NOT ARREST THE 'JOHNS' INSTEAD OF THE PROSTITUTES?
The providers of sexual services were not so fortunate, which highlights the arbitrary nature of vice law enforcement, wherein police and prosecutors can selectively apply the law. No, it is not a viable solution to decriminalize the prostitute while making the non violent, non abusive client the criminal. The so called Swedish model infantilizes adult women by disallowing our choices and presuming we are incapable of making our own sexual decisions. Nor does this in any way address the underlying matter of selective enforcement. This policy creates a situation where the cop or prosecutor can threaten to arrest or prosecute the clients of any particular prostitute if the sex worker doesn’t provide them with sex, money or information.
Even those entrusted with the enforcement of the Swedish law can’t keep their pants zipped up around sex workers: February 26, 2013 “Top prosecutor nabbed in prostitution sting. Police in Stockholm were surprised on Monday to find that a man they had arrested for buying sex from a prostitute was the duty prosecutor to whom they were obliged to report the crime... The chief prosecutor spent Monday evening with a female prostitute in a central Stockholm hotel. A police squad, however, had been tipped off and was waiting for him in the staircase outside the room. Officers were surprised to learn of the man's status while arresting him, as he was the prosecutor on duty to whom they should report the crime...”
If cops and prosecutors are not going to arrest, prosecute and punish the hundreds of thousands of rapists where a victim has reported a crime, why should they arrest and prosecute sex workers or their non violent, non abusive clients, employers and associates when no one reported being a victim of a crime? It is insulting and highly offensive to suggest that adult women could not of their own free will choose to engage in selling sexual services they could otherwise legally give away. Regardless of why they choose it, all adult women ought to have the autonomy to make choices for themselves even if others believe the choices are harmful. The fact that some or many sex workers do not like their work or are forced into sex work out of economic necessity does not negate their right to make choices that are none of anyone else's business.
Shouldn’t society be more concerned with the hundreds of thousands of violent rapists who have actual victims, who are never arrested or prosecuted and are free to rape over and over again? Why are so few street cops, police chiefs, judges and prosecutors who pimp, extort, rape, rob, beat and hire prostitutes arrested, prosecuted and punished? Are they above the law?
MORE EXAMPLES OF COPS, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES HIRING PROSTITUTES FOR PARTIES, COPS RAPING AND BEATING PROSTITUTES WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE:
- August 2, 1983 San Francisco Chronicle/ Robert Popp: San Francisco cops hired a prostitute for a graduating party held at the Rathskeller Restaurant, to perform oral sex on one of the recruits. The story was leaked to the press and a scandal ensued, but even after at least two prostitutes were called to testify against the officers who hired the one prostitute to perform oral sex on a handcuffed police cadet, no indictments were handed down despite the fact that hiring a prostitute for someone other than yourself is a felony called ‘pandering.’ The cops did not get arrested, however, the prostitute did... several times, including the day she was to testify against the cops who hired her.
- And “In the summer of 1993, 26 Newark police officers were accused of raping, robbing and beating prostitutes. Although the victims identified the officers through photo line-ups, city records show that the department never followed through on the allegations and has done nothing to discipline the officers.” Shouldn’t these criminal cops have at least been fired, if not arrested and prosecuted for raping, robbing and beating women whose work is considered “like rape” and who are routinely arrested to ‘protect them for their own good’?
- In 2007, Albuquerque Police Officer David Maes was accused of and plead guilty to raping a prostitute. His sentencing judge, Pat Murdock, told the court that sending a police officer to prison “would be a harsh sentence for an ex-cop.” He sentenced Maes to probation, and “As part of the plea deal Maes does not have to register as a sex offender, and once he completes his probation the conviction will be wiped off his record.” In other words, he could become a law enforcement agent again in another city.
- In 2011, Maes’ sentencing judge, Judge Pat Murdock, who had presided over a number of prostitution cases in his court, was arrested on charges of criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness... and the rape of… a prostitute. Murdock was allowed to retire, and the charges were dropped until a further investigation into the charges could be conducted. Nothing more about this case has been reported and undoubtedly never will be.
- In 2010, Green Tree Police Chief Andrew Lisiecki, got naked and let a prostitute perform a sexual act before making the arrest... The report said “the chief allowed the woman to begin performing a sex act on him. At some point after that, he informed her that she was under arrest...”
- In 2010, San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas John Sadler, who had a history of assaulting prostitutes going back at least 9 years, was convicted of raping a prostitute. The prostitute testified that as he forced her legs apart and touched her vaginal area, he told her “Bitch, I can do anything I f.cking want...” At sentencing, he told the judge “I am a man. I saw a prostitute and I wanted to have sex...” The judge sympathetically remarked, “the crime was offensive but not worthy of the upper prison term of three years...” and sentenced Sadler to two years, despite the abusive history of this officer.
- In 2011, San Diego law enforcement officer, Daniel Dana, was arrested and accused of forcing a prostitute to have sex (rape). He was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of engaging in a lewd act in public and was sentenced to probation. He is not required to register as a sex offender. “The prostitute testified he told her ‘either I give him what he wants or I go to jail.’ The woman said the officer told her to get into his patrol car, and he took her to Presidio Park, where they had sex.’ San Diego Prosecutor Annette Irving said a plea deal was struck because of concerns about whether a jury would be able to agree that a prostitute had been raped.”
Need a more recent example of the hypocrisy?
- January 2013- How about an on duty cop who was caught in bed with a prostitute, and who was charged with a misdemeanor, but kept his job, because, according to the city manager ‘paying the officer to leave instead of returning to work would be “a million dollar check.”’ Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, 48, returned to duty in the Menlo Park Police Department late last year, following an internal affairs investigation triggered by the bust. Okay, he didn’t rape or extort her... but he did commit a crime, and the prostitute was arrested and prosecuted: “Ms. Ramirez, who has a criminal record for drug possession and prostitution, was arrested on the bench warrants...” It is unknown if she was convicted for this arrest.
- The July 29, 2013 NY Post reported: “Brooklyn prosecutor isn’t fired after calling hookers; A married Brooklyn prosecutor shamelessly called hookers from his office phone — and was caught after another assistant district attorney recognized his number while probing a call-girl service, sources told The Post... Politically connected rackets prosecutor Mark Posner, 37, was then quietly transferred to a much lower-profile post, two law-enforcement sources said... Posner is the son of the now-deceased Charles Posner, a former judge and top aide to Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes... He was exposed when another rackets prosecutor noticed his office number as she examined a prostitution service’s phone records during a routine investigation in 2009, sources said.”
* * *
There are just as many, if not more, stories of cops and drug corruption. From big cities to small towns, the corrosive influence of drug money has tainted the entire justice system. And whenever a scandal erupts involving cops, prostitutes, drugs and gambling rings, the city impanels a commission to look into the root cause of corruption. From Serpico and the French Connection, to Buddy Boys to the more recent case of Romulus Michigan Police Chief Michael St. Andre and crew, the corruption never stops and never will. Cops are tempted by same human desires as others in the community who use drugs or the services of prostitutes. No matter what draconian punishments are meted out to either the prostitute or his/ her client, prostitution will never be 'eliminated.' The more serious the charge, the longer the potential sentence for violating the law, the greater the incentive for law enforcement agents to use their power to extort sex workers for sex, money or information. In the over 50 years since it began, the "war on drugs" has not eliminate either the use of drugs or the sale of them. The price of drugs has dropped and drugs are more plentiful than ever. Inmates buy drugs from the prison guards. Cops supply their informants with drugs. What has the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, the loss of lives of innocent by-standers, family members and law enforcement officers done to reduce the use and sale of drugs? Not a thing.
HOW MANY POLICE COMMISSION REPORTS MUST IT TAKE TO CONVINCE THE PUBLIC THAT VICE LAWS ALWAYS HAVE AND ALWAYS WILL ENGENDER CORRUPTION? IS THE ENFORCEMENT OF VICE LAWS WORTH THE CORRUPTION OF THE ENTIRE JUSTICE SYSTEM?
The empaneled Commissions, such as the Mollen and Knapp Commissions- investigate and issue reports and make their recommendations to stop the spread of corruption. Time and time again, the recommendations include the decriminalization of drugs, gambling and prostitution. These are the trilogy of vice laws which have such a devastating influence on the integrity of the entire justice system.
Deplorably, many people are willing to accept the immoral consequences of their so called ‘moral laws’ as the price for imposing their moral or social values on society, and thus far, not many politicians have been brave enough to promote the implementation of those recommendations. After millions of taxpayer dollars are spent, the commission reports are placed high up on a shelf in a back office of the city official who instigated the investigation, gathering dust and forgotten until the next big corruption scandal.
Drugs may indeed be harmful to the individual, but so are other legal drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. Drug corruption is so rampant that when a drug user is sent to prison, they can get more and better drugs inside of prison than they got outside... because the guards are selling drugs to the inmates. Search for ‘guards caught selling drugs to inmates.’ Drug use is also common among the guards, who are often required to work extra shifts and so they use cocaine to stay awake. As noted earlier, even a few of the US Presidents and other elected officials have admitted to using illegal drugs in their youth (and beyond), although one claimed that he didn’t inhale.
Other than the corruption that vice laws breed, one of the most serious and problematic consequences of enforcing ‘vice laws,’ is that arresting an individual who is both the victim and ‘perpetrator’ often requires the arresting officer to fabricate conversations that never took place or create ‘criminal situations’ such as planting drugs on a ‘suspect’ in order to justify the arrest of the victim/perpetrator. Falsifying or ‘embellishing’ arrest reports is called “reportalying” and relying on those falsified reports while under oath on the witness stand in court to make their case against the perpetrator is called “testilying.”
In the February 2, 2013 New York Times article “Why Police Lie Under Oath” author Michelle Alexander notes “Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: ‘Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.’”
She continues, “In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence. That year, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn condemned a widespread culture of lying and corruption in the department’s drug enforcement units. ‘I thought I was not naïve,’ he said when announcing a guilty verdict involving a police detective who had planted crack cocaine on a pair of suspects. ‘But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.’” Distressing indeed. “Jeannette Rucker, the chief of arraignments for the Bronx district attorney, explained in a letter that it had become apparent that the police were arresting people even when there was convincing evidence that they were innocent. To justify the arrests, Ms. Rucker claimed, police officers provided false written statements, and in depositions, the arresting officers gave false testimony.”
Fabricating conversations that never happened is also quite common and often necessary to make prostitution arrests, because many prostitutes are quite savvy when dealing with undercover cops. However, in California, the legislature made it very easy for cops to make a prostitution arrest without having to engage in a conversation with a ‘suspected prostitute.’
Sat, Apr. 03, 2010 the Modesto Bee reported: “Seven women were arrested... on suspicion of intending to commit prostitution... authorities said. Given a relatively slow night, a few Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies decided to "put a dent" into the area's prostitution problem... they watched as... women flagged down cars. As soon as one of the women got a customer, an officer would alert another deputy who would watch the two enter a motel room... Less than two minutes later, they would knock on the door and arrest the woman, Grom said... Since the arrest came before anything was consummated... the women were charged with loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, a misdemeanor... taking that approach, instead of waiting for the act that would lead to prostitution charges, was less time-consuming and complicated... The men were not cited but were encouraged to "go home and not come back.” Under this law, the police can stop a person in a car, whether moving or not, and arrest them for ‘possessing the intent to commit prostitution.’ If condoms are found on the person, they are used as evidence to show intent. [Los Angeles citizens passed a law requiring porn actors to use condoms while filming, because they were convinced by pandering politicians that only by using condoms would the porn actors be protected from STDS... yet, oddly enough, Los Angeles cops routinely confiscate the condoms of sex workers, claiming that they need them as evidence... so it is clear that neither the politicians OR the cops REALLY care about the health and well being of ANYONE...]
What happens when a cop gets caught lying under oath? To the officer- usually nothing; he or she may be reprimanded and in some cases fired, but not much beyond that. Judges, prosecutors and cops who engage in serious misconduct have full or partial immunity from prosecution, even in blatantly dishonest or corrupt situations. Colleagues are reluctant to file a complaint against them, knowing that someday they may need a favor. “Misconduct” is such a benign word for such egregious violations of human rights.
To the victims of crimes where the police got caught testilying- it is an entirely different matter. Perhaps not many people care that drug cases are tossed due to a cop’s loss of credibility when her or she is caught in a lie. But the consequences from the loss of the officer’s credibility extend far beyond drug or prostitution cases. If that cop’s previous testimony in other criminal cases resulted in the conviction of a murderer, rapist or child molester, the disclosure that the cop lied under oath in any case will impact all other cases in which a conviction was obtained primarily through his or her testimony. Shrewd defense attorneys can and do argue that an officer who lied to make their case in some circumstances may have lied to make the case against a serious criminal, and request that their seriously criminal clients be released from prison.
What will you do if someone you love is the victim of a serious crime and the criminal who harmed your loved one is released from prison because the cop who put him or her behind bars is caught in a lie in a prostitution or drug case? Is it worth compromising the criminal justice system, the cop’s integrity and the safety of the public to know that someone, somewhere who was engaging in consensual adult commercial sex (or ingesting a substance that is no worse for them than nicotine or alcohol), was extorted by a cop who was willing to allow that person to continue being ‘exploited’ if he or she provided the cop with a ‘free sample,’ or the cop decided to lie and falsify a police report in order to justify arresting the ‘victim’?
THE GOOD NEWS- NOT ALL COPS ARE CORRUPT... AT LEAST FOR NOW
Fortunately for society, not all or even most cops are corrupt. Unfortunately for good cops in agencies where corruption thrives, their options are limited. They must either look the other way at the misdeeds/ criminal activity of their colleagues, join in the corruption so as not to cast suspicion on themselves that they may be working with the Feds, or they must leave their job and any retirement, health insurance and other benefits they may have already earned. So many unpleasant consequences to consider just to keep your conscience clear.
The best way to stop police corruption is to minimize the opportunities which tend to corrupt. Cops are human. When police officers are able to pick and choose which people they will arrest based on what the ‘suspect’ has to offer them, and recruiting ‘informants’ whom you can legally allow to continue to break the law is not only acceptable but encouraged by your department, corruption is the only possible outcome. And when sex and money are involved, there are very few male officers who can resist the temptation to demand ‘free samples’ or ask for a payoff to ignore the ‘vice crimes.’ Anyone who believes that ‘vices’ - which have been enjoyed or abhorred by so many since the beginning of time- are ever going to be eliminated or abolished, regardless of the harsh penalties imposed on those selectively charged with a crime, is seriously dialectically challenged.
The penalty for engaging in prostitution has at times and in some places included execution. And yet it thrives even where the death penalty is a possible consequence for providing others with prostitutes. China, for example, executed madams as recently as 2011, claiming that the madam was forcing women into prostitution, which is the same unfounded argument posited by all governments which ban sex work (‘women must be forced into prostitution because no one would choose to be a prostitute’ and yet we do choose to engage in sex work...). Most often, madams and prostitutes are charged with crimes because they refuse to pay off the police. It is, unfortunately, the same around the world, from New Jersey to Spain, from 1930 (and of course, far into the past) to 2013. You can work as a prostitute as long as you ‘cooperate’ with the local cops.
WHAT ABOUT THE CLAIM THAT DECRIMINALIZING OR LEGALIZING ADULT PROSTITUTION LEADS TO INCREASED VIOLENCE AGAINST PROSTITUTES?
Prostitution abolitionists contend that in those countries which have decriminalized or legalized prostitution, there has been an increase of violence against prostitutes, but what standard of measurement could they possibly use to validate such a claim?
Where prostitution is prohibited for either the prostitute or the client, it is not likely that a victim of violence will report the crime to the authorities. Knowing that the probable outcome of going to the police to report the violence is most likely to be either the non investigation of the crime by disinterested law enforcement officers, or their own arrest, prosecution and incarceration (also called ‘rescue and rehabilitation’)- or both- tends to discourage victims of violence from reporting a crime no matter how traumatized by the violence they may be.
Under those circumstances, it would be impossible to ascertain how many incidents of violence were not reported because of prostitution laws which deterred such reporting; therefore how would it be possible for anyone to assert that decriminalization or legalization of prostitution led to increase of violence against prostitutes? When prostitutes are no longer facing arrest or law enforcement apathy in investigating the crime for which they unequivocally acknowledge they are the victim, there may be a significant rise in the number of reported incidents of violence, perhaps even as much as a 100% increase. That’s not indicative of a rise in violence but rather is indicative of the empowerment of women to report violence they never before would have considered reporting.
Recently a Norwegian woman was in Dubai for a business meeting and was raped. She went to the police to report the crime, but instead of investigating and arresting the rapist, she was arrested and convicted of the crime of ‘having sex outside of marriage,’ and sentenced to 16 months in prison. The international outrage at the injustice pressured the Dubai government to commute her sentence and allowed her to return to her country.
It is doubtful she was aware of that law or that the law could be applied to her, where she clearly had not consented. If she knew there was a high probability she would be arrested and punished rather than the man who raped her, would she still have reported the crime?
No doubt other rape victims who live in Dubai were and are familiar with the consequences of reporting a rape, so they simply do not report the rape. With few or no reports of rapes, Dubai can claim that the law keeps women safe, and use the lack of reported rape crimes as evidence that the law is working.
What if the Dubai police claimed that abolition of the law would increase the number of rapes... therefore, to protect women, the law must remain even if it discouraged rape victims from reporting the crime? Would anyone accept such a preposterous argument? Yet this is the argument prostitution abolitionists use to promote the continued criminalization of prostitution.
GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE BUSINESS OF ENFORCING MORAL OR SOCIAL VALUES- IT ISN'T ITS' JOB!
The government cannot be the arbiter of moral and philosophical values without compromising the freedom and autonomy of the individual. Society has to decide whether turning otherwise honest law enforcement officers, prison guards, prosecutors and judges into liars and criminals who commit atrocities in the pursuit of enforcing unenforceable vice laws is worth attempting to prevent consenting adults from engaging in consenting adult activity. Whether you are morally, socially or ideologically opposed to what other adults do to themselves and with other consenting adults; if the people who engage in whatever immoral or anti-social activity you find offensive, have not sought help, if they do not claim to be a victim of a crime, what right do you individually or collectively have to interfere in the lives of those adults, regardless of whatever harm you believe they are inflicting on themselves?
Are there not enough real victims who have asked for help- but will not get it because there are no cops available- so that you must create victims out of people whom you believe are harming themselves in some way but whose private activity is none of anyone else’s business? The courts in the US have ruled that the cops have NO legal obligation to protect us from a violent predator, why should they be obliged to protect us from ourselves?
© Norma Jean Almodovar 2013 Portions of this article first appeared in the "Fair Observer" in August, 2013