Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spitzer Brings Back Memory of Two Hours with the Johns

The sex scandal of Eliot Spitzer reminded me of the few solicitation cases I handled. Particularly one case. My client, a married man in his late forties, living away from his wife and children, was caught soliciting a prostitute. The “prostitute” was an undercover police officer. My client screamed entrapment since the alleged “prostitute” was really good looking and therefore hard for a red blooded man like him to say no to. I told him while I completely understand his point, that defense would not fly in court.
When he was arrested his car was impounded. He had to pay a few hundred dollars to reclaim it. It’s a lot more than he would have had to pay for the sought after service. There is money for everyone in the prostitution business-the workers, the lawyers and the government as well. Counties bring in money from forfeiture of the vehicle used to advance the crime even if the car belonged to the unknowing wife, girlfriend or a George Fox.
Since my client had rudimentary command of English I had to go through the process with him.
I went with him to the forfeiture office in the county to pay, if I recall right, nine hundred dollars to get the car used in the crime back. Part of his plea included a sex education class. He asked me to sit in the class with him- he insisted. He paid me to sit with him, the Johns, as well as the sex workers. It was some experience. I was there in the middle of the supply and demand. In that room there were no Kristens or Ashley Dupres.
Both the instructor and I were imposing ourselves on the money for sex market. I wondered if some in the demand contingent knew the ones in the supply group or that the setting provided grounds for future interaction.
The instructor was a woman in her fifties, dressed all in red, red shoes as well, with red lipstick; discussing the danger of sex, diseases. She asked the attendees what are ways, other than sex, for a man and woman to enjoy each other. She answered herself by saying I am not talking about masturbation here! She explained that the other ways are watching movies and having dinner together.
It really felt like being a member of the audience of a live show. The attendees were three classes- the mildly annoyed, the mildly amused, and the indifferent. The instructor marched on. She talked about HIV, about needles, and about AIDS.
In the end of the class they had to answer a few multiple choice questions . Then she went over the answers with the class.
No class, no fine, and no embarrassment will change prostitution. The forces and motivations for becoming a sex worker as well as a sex customer are not going to be changed by government intervention, by religion, or by societal disapproval. The penalties, the fines, the embarrassment, the humiliation, will not change the market. Government and society can vilify and sanction the participants but nothing will change. The oldest profession will continue to survive and the seekers will continue to find. And society will keep pretending that the problem is being taken care of.

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