VA, MA, and D.C. law enforcement must step up and prosecute the crime of patronizing
New York, NY, November 9, 2023 – Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced the arrests of three individuals charged with operating an interstate prostitution ring patronized by high tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, professors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, elected officials, military officers, and government contractors with security clearances.
While the three individuals operating the network of brothels have been named and charged, law enforcement has not done the same with the hundreds of sex buyers, according to the affidavit. However, their identities are well-known by authorities: sex buyers were required to fill out a verification process on the websites providing their full names, email address, phone number, and employer. Once verified, the defendants via text message sent the high-profile men “menus” of sex acts they could buy, and scheduled appointments.
“Sex buyers have been privileged with anonymity for far too long. Law enforcement, the media and society have shielded their identities. It’s time for a steady stream of sunlight and an honest conversation about the harms and damage sex buyers create because of their hobby of buying sex,” said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of Women’s Justice NOW.
The public has a right to know the names not only of the alleged traffickers in this case, but of the men who create the market for commercial sex. Without sex buyers, there would be no brothels like in this case, which leads to sex trafficking.
“Alleged perpetrators of crimes are identified even before they get to court, so why the mystery when it comes to patronizers of prostitution?” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. “If we want to prevent sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in earnest, then we must target the demand or sex buyers, end their anonymity, and hold them accountable for the egregious harm they cause.”
Hundreds of high-profile men in this case reportedly purchased mostly young Asian women at rates of $350 to $600, selecting women from websites that listed their height, weight, and bust size, but not age. It’s probable that some of the victims were minors; one young woman’s weight was listed at just 85 pounds.
We call on states and local law enforcement to coordinate with the Department of Justice to prosecute these sex buyers using state laws. We also call on the DOJ and other government agencies to refrain from characterizing these women as “sex workers.” U.S. Government policies and laws do not consider prostitution as labor, therefore the terminology of “sex work” is not compatible with either such policies nor defined under U.S. federal law. Under the National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD-22, the U.S. Government opposes prostitution as it contributes to the trafficking in persons.