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Proposed Posting of Clients List In Prostitution Case Raises Privacy Concerns 533

Posted by samzenpus
from the staying-off-the-list dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An interesting case touching on privacy in the Internet age has erupted in Kennebunk, Maine, the coastal town where the Bush family has a vacation home. When a fitness instructor who maintained a private studio was arrested for prostitution, she turned out to have maintained meticulous billing records on some 150 clients, and had secretly recorded the proceedings on video files stored in her computer. Local police have begun issuing summons to her alleged johns, and have announced intentions to publish the list, as is customary in such cases. Police believe such publication has a deterrent effect on future incidents of the kind. However, the notoriety of the case has some, including newspaper editors, wondering whether the lives of the accused johns may be disproportionately scarred (obtaining or keeping a job, treatment of members of their families within the community) for a the mere accusation of having committed a misdemeanor. Also, the list of names will be permanently archived and indexed by search engines essentially forever."
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Proposed Posting of Clients List In Prostitution Case Raises Privacy Concerns

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  • Publish them all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omnif ... s.org minus city> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:33PM (#41651611) Homepage Journal

    The more names of 'important' people who are on the list, the more it should be published. Maybe then someone will actually decide that prosecuting consensual crimes like this isn't generally worth the risk.

    Though, waiting until she and her partner are found guilty might be a good plan.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      I doubt that will be the ultimate effect.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:11PM (#41651855) Homepage

      Though, waiting until she and her partner are found guilty might be a good plan.

      That's the problem here, the consequences for people who are still innocent until proven guilty. Even in this seemingly straight forward case it is possible that some of them really are innocent, for example like all the people caught up in the Operation Ore paedophile cases whose credit cards had been stolen.

      The media always publishes the names of people accused of murder, rape, paedophilia and various other crimes that will ruin their lives. When they are found innocent the same level of coverage is rarely given. Naturally they lose their jobs and probably most of their friends. The law could require that their employer gives them their job back, but often it takes years or even decades for them to be proven innocent.

      • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @09:14PM (#41653797) Homepage

        The problem doesn't seem to be that Johns deserve privacy until proven guilty. The problem is that rich or important Johns deserve privacy until proven guilty, and potentially thereafter as well.

        Why are the well-to-do and well-connected being protected from losing their board positions, when the justice system doesn't bat an eye at causing factory workers and office assistants to lose theirs in similar circumstances?

    • I don't think you should assume all prostitution is consensual.

      • I don't think you should assume all prostitution is consensual.

        Then it would be rape, or sex slavery which is a completely different crime. Maybe if prostitution was a regulated business the black market of abuse wouldn't thrive.

    • What really needs to happen is not only the publishing of the names, but the "items" they ordered. So if Olympia Snowe got a Cleveland Steamer on months ending in "r", we'd be better informed voters come election day. (Okay, I don't know many politicians from Maine).
    • Re:Publish them all (Score:4, Interesting)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:32PM (#41652027)

      Maybe then someone will actually decide that prosecuting consensual crimes like this isn't generally worth the risk.

      That's not what would happen. What would happen is that other "important" people who happen to be political or otherwise enemies of those on the list would attack them for their own advantage while secretly thanking God that their own favorite prostitute wasn't the one raided.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:34PM (#41651615)

    wouldn't it be pornography and be legal?

    • If she videotaped it..
      wouldn't it be pornography and be legal?

      My layman's understanding (insert beavis innuendo laugh) is that it's just porn and not prostitution when both people are paid by a third party to have sex but the third party does not engage in any sexual contact (e.g. they just run the camera).

      • by gweihir (88907) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:47PM (#41654327)

        Hey, here is a business model that could make this legal:

        1. Have a third party pay both prostitute and client.
        2. Have the act videotaped
        3. Have the client buy the tape as the sum or the original fees.

        Of course, there must not be any coercion on 3. But this could be solved by the client buying another tape before (of professionals) and only getting re-hired if he buys his own tapes afterwards. Maximum amount of trust needed on the client-side: 1 act.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:41PM (#41651665)
    I guess that whole silly "innocent until proven guilty" is so outdated.
  • She was charged with invasion of privacy, among other things.

    Sounds like the cops would be guilty of the same. If the Johns had an expectation of privacy, they still have that expectation. The videotapes she made will undoubtedly be used against the Johns, as the cops would have to prove their cases.

    In any case, I agree with the article. If misdemeanors are regularly published, then publish it. If not, they should not. However, the list will be published one way or another, in full or piecemeal, unless they

    • by Gorobei (127755)

      If the Johns had an expectation of privacy, they still have that expectation.

      They can have whatever expectation they want, doesn't mean anyone else agrees.

      You sit at home at home and JOAC - you have a good expectation of privacy.

      You walk a public street, enter a prostitute's apartment, pay on a credit card, rely on her not to film the encounter: you have lost all claims to privacy. At best you have a civil lawsuit against the women and the right to claim in public that you were just there to "save souls" or "help the fallen" or many of the classic defenses.

  • by acidfast7 (551610) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:48PM (#41651697)
    just make prostitution legal (and regulated) like most of Europe. You can even tax the income, while ensuring the safety of the workers and the clients. For bonus points, I grew in Wells, ME, about 10km south of Kennebunk ... and this kinda of ridiculous attention to foolish stories/details like this is one of the reasons I left (small town politics, anyone?) A john's life destroyed? Hardly, especially not by an "employer" with half a brain.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      A john's life destroyed? Hardly, especially not by an "employer" with half a brain.

      You're going to employ someone with a history of hiring prostitutes, and risk a sexual harassment suit (real or made up) where they'll claim that it's all your fault because you hired this man knowing he had dubious morals and therefore you should pay them millions of dollars in damages?

      • If morals are the problem, then it should be illegal to hire anyone who you know to have committed any felony, misdemeanor, or traffic ticket, since they are obviously of dubious moral character. In reality, there's nothing that correlates hiring a prostitute with harassment at the workplace, just like there's nothing that correlates forgetting to use a blinker when changing lanes to higher incidences of bad business decision making.
    • Pimping is still illegal in most (all?) of Europe. So the result would have been the same. The fitness instructor would have still been arrested for pimping. His client list would still be made as evidence and be published.

    • Most of Europe doesn't have prostitution entirely legal, parts of Holland being the exception. The exact situation varies. In the UK, for example, it is not illegal to accept money for sex - but it is illegal to *give* money for sex. The theory behind this is that the prostitutes themselves are victims of circumstance, and to make them criminals would render them unable to seek the help they need, while the johns are the real criminals and deserve to be jailed for their immorality. It's also illegal to 'liv
      • by Geeky (90998)

        Replied above to the same point, but giving money for sex is not illegal in the UK unless the receiver is being coerced or controlled - i.e. has a pimp, is trafficked or being forced into it. It's strict liability, though, so taking her word for it that she is fully consenting and doing it of her own free will is not a defence.

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @07:00PM (#41653017)

      For bonus points, I grew in Wells, ME, about 10km south of Kennebunk

      I guess you grew up there some time ago.

      just make prostitution legal (and regulated) like most of Europe.

      A very long time ago.

      Maybe it is better if the US doesn't legalize prostitution like the !most of Europe, and the part of Europe where it is legal but being moved against?

      French minister for women seeks abolition of prostitution in Europe [guardian.co.uk]

      France's minister for women is to organise a consultation on ways to abolish prostitution in France and Europe, she has told the Guardian.

      Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the high profile women's rights minister and government spokeswoman, said in an interview that she would be organising a conference of experts on how to contain the sex-trade and human-trafficking and was seeking to meet the home secretary Theresa May for input from the UK.

      "Since the 19th century and the role of [the Victorian feminist] Josephine Butler, Britain and France have been the core countries in the international mobilisation against prostitution. I really hope that these common roots are still alive," she said. She wanted a meeting with May on how Britain and France approach prostitution and human-trafficking. In France prostitution is not illegal, but activities around it are. Brothels were outlawed in 1946 and pimping is illegal.

      In 2003 a controversial law against soliciting was introduced by Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister, making it illegal to stand in a public place known for prostitution dressed in revealing clothes.

      Last year, the French parliament adopted a resolution on the abolition of prostitution saying its objective was a "society without prostitution".

      The consultation would consider recommendations made last year by a cross-party commission of French MPs that it should be illegal to pay for sex. The MPs had suggested all clients of sex workers, meaning anyone who buys sex from any kind of prostitute, would face prison and a fine. Clients of sex-workers face prison in a handful of European countries, including Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

      Spain, the world capital of prostitution? [independent.co.uk]
      In Spain, Women Enslaved by a Boom in Brothel Tourism [nytimes.com]

      LA JONQUERA, Spain — She had expected a job in a hotel. But when Valentina arrived here two months ago from Romania, the man who helped her get here — a man she had considered her boyfriend — made it clear that the job was on the side of the road.

      He threatened to beat her and to kill her children if she did not comply. And so she stood near a roundabout recently, her hair in a greasy ponytail, charging $40 for intercourse, $27 for oral sex.

      “For me, life is finished,” she said later that evening, tears running down her face. “I will never forget that I have done this.”

      La Jonquera used to be a quiet border town where truckers rested and the French came looking for a deal on hand-painted pottery and leather goods. But these days, prostitution is big business here, as it is elsewhere in Spain, where it is essentially legal.

      While the rest of Spain’s economy may be struggling, experts say that prostitution — almost all of it involving the ruthless trafficking of foreign women — is booming, exploding into public view in small towns and big cities. The police recently rescued a 19-year-old Romanian woman from traffickers who had tattooed on her wrist a bar code and the amount she still owed them: more than $2,500.

      In the past, most c

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:18PM (#41654169) Journal

      I live in Holland where prostitution is legal, to the extend politicians had to decide on how to treat jobs in the sex industry in regards to job centers and people on benefits having to take any suitable job or loose their benefits. (Decision was that they are allowed to advertise but it can't be mandated as a suitable job or suggested by a consultant helping you to find a job.

      The problem is that the happy hooker is a lie, pretty woman is not reality-TV. No mentally stable, non-self-loathing woman with options will choose to be come a prostitute. There is the idea of female students putting themselves through school by selling their body but lets face it, no woman who really has a future would do it, since having a history of being a prostitute will hurt your career and social future.

      Be honest, would you date a hooker? Marry her? No? Well there you go.

      There are women who want to be a prostitute but they do it for money/laughs. Problem with that is, they want to make a decent living with it and charge through the nose. High class escort really just means "you expect WHAT per hour", they don't come cheap. I know, I made websites for them. Think 2000 euro per night and then extra for extra's. These are NOT the women who walk the streets. Hell, some escorts even are picky as to who they take as clients. Do you think a street walker or a woman working behind the glass in Amsterdam has such options?

      The reality of most prostitution is that the women has to do anything that any john asks and lets face it, nice guys don't use street hookers. And you might think a slut as being a woman who has men in the high double digits. For a hooker? Closing in on 4 digits. Think about it. Say it is 100 per fuck (a very high price). A developer might charge the same but can do it for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, all your long. That is 2016 johns in a year, just to get the same income as a crappy web developer. Remember, if prostitution is legal, you have to pay the same taxes as any other self employed person. You can do web development in a cheap t-shirt and jeans. An expensive hooker needs more expensive clothes.

      And all the time, she risks some insane person coming along and killing her off. Really want the most dangerous job in the world? Prostitution, the favorite target of serial killers.

      The simple fact is that in Holland, with legal prostition, human trafficking for the sex trade hasn't dropped at all. That is because the amount of Dutch women who have decent social protection who choose prostitution to make their living is far to low and isn't serving the low end of the market. You don't think a college girl putting herself through school who has any reason to want that diploma is going to work several johns a day for what amounts to minimum wage after they payed their pimp for protection and all the other costs?

      The porn industry is probably better known on Slashdot, check income. (and remember, this is income of a self-employed person so the prices are pre-taxes with no benefits) of actresses, the majority not the statistically insignificant few who made it to the top. A picture shoot earns as little as a few hundred, maybe 500 if she does all the site asks. A VHS tape might earn 1-2 thousand back in the day. If you are self-employed in IT, would you even bother answering the phone for such amounts? Especially knowing that the porn industry is always looking for fresh faces, so it is not as if you can do 5 shoots per day, every working day of the year.

      Yes, I know, cases such as this show rather decent amounts of money being made. They are the exception, same as some programmers on Wall Street make 1 million dollars or more. Do you make 1 million dollars or more? No? Well, then you are the street walker, no the high class pretty woman escort.

      I am not saying making prostitution illegal is the answer but making it legal in Holland has not magically fixed everything. In fact, in some ways it has become worse. It used to be possible for the police to liberate women who were

      • by sFurbo (1361249) on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:52AM (#41655961)

        No mentally stable, non-self-loathing woman with options will choose to be come a prostitute.

        I see, you know the mind of every women on earth. Or are you going to define "mentally stable, non-self-loathing" as one who does not want to become a prostitute, true Scotsman-style?

        There are women who want to be a prostitute but they do it for money/laughs.

        I see, you chose "blatantly disagreeing with myself". I suppose you will claim you didn't write any of the things I quote you for?

  • The reasons for this 'outing of johns' is meant to keep young impressionable women from being exploited by more worldly men of low moral character, I'm all for that, and history usually judge's a society by how well it treats it's women. In Maine everyone pretty much knows everyone else. This posting of names would have defamation of character lawsuits occuring constantly, if the state does not have complete proof that the accused is the actual john. Presently, letters do get sent to the addresses linked
  • Handle The Crime (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If there is a criminal, prosecute them. Think no further and go no further. It is not anyone's place to preempt in such a manner. Just stay in your own lane.

    Personally, I feel that people need to stay out of someone else's pants. Prosecuting people for selling sex is a lazy approach to human rights and a sign of the populace sticking it's nose where it doesn't belong in the first place.

  • The lists may be 99% true but I know if I were in that business and I went down I would want to take others down. Specifically those in power be they in government, police or influential businessmen. 80% of those people probably are already customers so that would only be a few names would need to lie about.

    It sends a message to those that publicly persecute prostitution that their names will be dragged through the mud as well.

  • Unless they involve minors, misdemeanor charges--DUI, shoplifting, simple assault, etc--are matter of public record. Why should these charges be an exception?
  • It's 2012, why does this search engine stuff come up all the time, when it's *so* easy to fix? If they want to publish the names, but not have them come up when people are searching for individual people, shove the list in robots.txt. Not complicated. A moron can figure out robots.txt

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because the second they put it online, someone else will rehost it and make it available for search.

  • ...on a criminal f-cking conspiracy?
  • ....why the hell this is any of the government's business at all.

    • ...and why is it legal if a camera's rolling tape on the sex act? Then, it's called "art".
      • Only if the person filming isn't having sex.

        California fought and lost the case so now many other states who have laws making it illegal are afraid to prosecute and become centers for porn production as California has.

        Personally- when are we going to get past this sex/money thing. Even this sex thing.

        How many conservatives need to be found having gay sex before they stop trying to make it illegal? How many people of both political persuasions need to be found having sex for money before they make it legal

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:08PM (#41651835) Homepage

    ...so we can deter future johns. Otherwise they'll just victimize more -- oh, wait, are the johns the victims? Or is it the johns who victimize the prostitutes? Both?

    OK, let's publish the list so that future johns will be deterred from victimizing themselves. Or something.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like they were making legal pornography to me.

    Here in Minnesota, that's all you see on Adult Friend Finder. Legal prostitution under the guise of making pornography. As long as you record it, you can pay her for it.

    If I were the defense attorney I'd be harping on this crucial fact. IANAL and I do not know if making pornography is illegal in Maine.

  • by Tom (822)

    Police believe such publication has a deterrent effect on future incidents of the kind.

    Police should not base their actions on belief, but on evidence. There are studies in almost everything, I'm sure there are studies on this. If not, it's time one was made. I'm not at all convinced it has much of an effect, but convince me otherwise.

    Until then, I think we can leave the pillory in the dark ages. I thought we had.

  • Being Canadian, I am surprised prostitution is actually a crime in the United States. Strictly speaking, it isn't here.
    Seems kind of parochial, just sayin'.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:18PM (#41651935) Journal
    John Smith
    Bob Jones
    Mickey Mouse
    John Doe
    I.P. Freely
    Rosie O'Donnell
    Robert Jones
    Jim Johnson
    I.M. Sparticus
    Mayor Quimby
    Dave Smith
    John Johnson
    ...
  • Sound like certain Journo's are on the list.

    Normally they would be begging for the list...

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:20PM (#41651953)

    John Cooper
    John Smith
    John Baker
    John Howard
    John Davis
    John Brookhead
    John Wilson
    Juan Mendez
    Juan Morales
    Johen Schmidt
    Jean Billet
    Jean Claude

  • If someone wants to pay for anonymous sex and someone else wants to be paid for providing it, why is the government sticking it's nose in? What is wrong with selling sex? Sex doesn't kill you like cigarettes will but you can legally buy cigarettes everywhere, but most places you'll be arrested for trying to buy sex. Prostitution is illegal because the law is part of the mechanism men implemented to control women. Prostitution is illegal because men made the law to oppress women. Don't let them get an educa
  • Publish the names, but only in connection with each of the 150 charges that would be brought against the Johns... Don't just publish the list and disallow them an attempt at defense.

    Sure they are on tape, and their names are on record - but they STILL have rights, and are still innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

    A list doesn't wholly prove guilt. A tape doesn't wholly prove guilt. The court decides who is guilty and it is based on ALL the evidence presented.

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff&gmail,com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @07:17PM (#41653129) Homepage Journal

    This is only a problem because powerful men have their names on that list. If it were blue-collar workers, teh list woudl already have been released.

    These guys want to pay to fark some hotties who likes to make videos of her masturbating with a popsicle? The law says that their names will be published since she was arrested for prostitution?

    Let the law be the same for everybody here. Perhaps the powerful men will learn a valuable lesson.

  • by RedBear (207369) <redbear&redbearnet,com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @07:48PM (#41653325) Homepage

    The saddest part of this kind of crap is just how silly it all is. If instead of just paying her for private sex the "johns" were paying her to make a private "adult film" (with them as director and co-star), then she would simply be an "adult film star" and they would be making "pornography" which is perfectly legal. Take away the camera and suddenly it's "prostitution" which is illegal. Even though the participants and the sex acts will be exactly the same.

    What... the... FUCK?

    How many more decades or centuries will it be before society at large finally acknowledges that it is complete bizarro-world insanity for "consensual sex for money" to continue to be highly illegal while "consensual sex for money IN FRONT OF A CAMERA" is perfectly legal? It's the same goddamn thing for Christ's sake! Make up your fucking mind!

    Prostitution should be exactly as legal as pornography. Legalize it, regulate it, tax it, and test sex workers for STDs/HIV at least once a month just exactly the same as they do with "adult film stars". Any other course is utter nonsense. A few of the actual civilized countries of the world seem to have figured this out, but I give the US another century before it happens here. At least.

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