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There Is No New Backpage

By April Glaser

Last April, two successive tremors shook the business of sex on the internet. The first was the dramatic FBI shutdown of Backpage, a website for posting online personals that had attained outsize importance among sex workers. Days after that, President Trump signed two new bills into law, the Stop Enabling Online Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which together make websites that knowingly allow sex trafficking to happen liable for hosting the illegal activity—thus making it much easier for prosecutors to go after the proprietors of sites like Backpage. Both of these moves were meant to help some of the most vulnerable people impacted by the availability of sex online: individuals, often minors, being trafficked by pimps who sought out customers on sites like Backpage. Other venues took notice: Craigslist, for example, took down its personals section for fear of being held liable for activity on it. But like so many well-intentioned policies, these actions to help victims harmed another group in the process—people engaged in consensual adult sex work. When Backpage shuttered, “I was like, I’m fucked,” a sex worker who calls herself Raven told me. “For me, I was like ‘this has been the only way I have known how to survive.’ ” Raven, 27, has been a sex worker in some form or another since she was kicked out of her parents’ house at 18. She relied on Backpage to find and vet clients—and most importantly, work for herself without an agency or pimp.  

Related article: Backpage Alternatives (over 60 websites that offer escort listings)

Cracking down on the forums where pimps solicit sex on behalf of trafficking victims was probably always going to affect a broader group. It’s an unfortunate irony that while FOSTA and SESTA were supposed to make it harder for pimps to coerce or force people into sex work, the websites they targeted were favored by sex workers who wanted to avoid pimps. What’s clear, 10 months after the passage of those laws, is that a solution that will safeguard both those who are being trafficked and those who are engaged in consensual adult sex work remains elusive. An array of Band-Aid–like solutions for vetting clients online only illustrates the depth of the problem—that until the law sees consensual adult sex work differently, it’ll remain dangerous no matter what ingenious solution or policy emerges.

Given what happened on it, few would argue for restoring a site like Backpage. A lengthy Senate investigation into the site’s founders, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin (who also previously ran Village Voice Media, a chain of alt-weeklies that included the Village Voice), found internal emails that allegedly showed how the site’s administrators edited posts with software that scrubbed words from ads that signaled illegal work with minors, like “amber alert” and “Lolita,” rather than passing the information on to law enforcement.* Lacey and Larkin, along with the site’s CEO Carl Ferrer, were all charged with money laundering and pimping. That investigation brought to light terrifying stories of young trafficking victims whose pimps relied on Backpage and who were raped hundreds of times, which gave momentum to the passage of FOSTA and SESTA.

Related article: FBI WARS: Video of Donald Trump with underage girls says Whistleblower Police child protection specialist

Without Backpage, Raven has mostly left sex work, save for rare jobs with friends who need a partner because a client requested one—perhaps a positive outcome in the view of the laws’ authors, but for Raven, who suffers from chronic pain and mental health issues, it’s been “the only job where I could feasibly do a lot of work when I can. At times when I’ve had steady jobs with a schedule I always get suicidal and fuck it up.” Others who previously relied on Backpage or Craigslist have gone to work for escort services, pimps, dungeons, or massage parlors that are known for offering a little extra, which all generally take a hefty cut of what clients pay. One sex worker I spoke to from New York told me some women she used to work with now drive for Uber. Some have returned to street work. And others still have tried to replace Backpage with other online services so they can still work independently. One newer option is Switter, a “sex work-friendly social space” made in Australia, where the sex business is largely legal. There are also sites like TNA Board, Tryst, and Eros, which all cost money to be on.

Importantly, most of these sites are not based in the United States, though Americans are able to post on them. The new laws chip away at the immunity enjoyed by websites under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a bedrock internet law that has ensured online forums, including social networks and news sites with comments sections, generally aren’t liable for what users post. Without that immunity, the legal risk of running a website that allows sex workers to advertise but could also attract sex traffickers is much, much higher. “It’s become more of a buyers’ market,” a sex worker based in the Bay Area who goes by Chloe told me, explaining that without having as many potential clients to pick from, many in her community are returning to men they’d rather not see again. “When you look at screenshots that have surfaced from some of the client forums, you can see some of these guys who are real monsters celebrating about how now that the sites are down women can’t charge whatever they want,” Chloe said.

Related article: How to beat any prostitution sting (10 easy steps to spot-stay ahead of LE)

The creator of Switter wanted to create an option so sex workers could avoid such situations. Sensing that the Backpage investigation was coming to its end and that the passage of an anti-internet trafficking law was imminent, Lola Hunt, a sex worker based in Australia who was also a Backpage customer, decided to collaborate with a friend on creating a new platform for sex professionals to congregate. Switter launched at the start of April, about a week before Backpage and Craigslist closed and FOSTA was signed into law. By May, the site had ballooned to around 70,000 users. But Switter’s growth—the site now counts more than 209,000 users, according to Hunt—hasn’t been free from turbulence. Within 10 days of FOSTA being on the books and less than a month of being operational, Switter’s content delivery provider, Cloudflare, gave it the boot, forcing Switter offline and in search of a new option. The reason, according to Cloudflare’s general counsel, was “related to our attempts to understand FOSTA, which is a very bad law and a very dangerous precedent.” Whatever they felt, Cloudflare was treading cautiously around the new status quo.

And it wasn’t the only company unwilling to support a site for sex workers after Backpage and FOSTA. In order to cover the costs of running Switter, Lola and two other colleagues launched Tryst, a paid platform for sex workers that allows them to maintain anonymity and still verify they are the person in posted ads. (Switter, by contrast, is more a Twitter-like social feed.) The lowest package on Tryst starts at about $35 a month for sex workers. But building a way for the site to accept money has been nearly impossible, according to Hunt. “In Australia we’ve been rejected from multiple banks without reason. And they have every right to because sex work is not protected by anti-discrimination rules,” says Hunt. Widely used American payment companies like Stripe and PayPal were out of the question, Hunt said, because “we can’t use a company that stores our users’ data in the United States. That’s out of the cards.” Still, Hunt and her colleagues have managed to find workarounds, and Switter and Tryst are currently operating.

Related article: FBSM Reviews (escort reviews and verified post. No cops, no stings and no bad dates. All post are verified as being honest and reputable.)

Jenny, a sex worker who also runs a nude housework business in Seattle, told me she lost all of her old regulars after Backpage and Craigslist because, she figures, they’re afraid of getting busted. She now uses TNA Board, an online message board with local forums that costs money to use, but that hasn’t been as steady as Craigslist and Backpage. “I’m in the red now. I don’t have any savings,” she told me. “I usually like to keep a few hundred cash in the house. But right now, I’m worried because I’m not getting as many calls or emails. It’s dead.” Switter has certainly worked for some—but not all. For one thing, it operates like an open social network, and to ensure your posts are visible requires social-media savvy and regular use. It sorts posts using hashtags, which can make the site feel cacophonous, with some posters cramming in long strings of keywords. But the biggest problem is scale: None of these alternatives has as many clients as Backpage did, which means the sex workers have fewer of them to vet.

What all of these annoyances and limitations add up to is a greater likelihood of sex workers turning to the streets to solicit sex. In San Francisco, people who live in neighborhoods that are adjacent to strolls where street-based sex workers pick up clients have been complaining to the police about the uptick in prostitution in their neighborhoods, as one resident of the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco told CBS 5 KPIX earlier this month: “We’ve had recently sex workers performing their trade in our front yard, under our daughter’s window.” Pike Long, the deputy director of St. James Infirmary, a health and safety clinic for sex workers in the city, told me the clinic estimates the number of sex workers now doing street work in San Francisco alone has tripled since Craigslist’s personals section and BackPage went offline. The uptick led to the creation of a “Sex Workers Abatement Unit” within the Mission police station, which often gives sex workers the choice of either going to jail or going through a diversion program. In Long’s view that’s coercive, since many sex workers often choose jail over going through a police-sanctioned program. 
While there have been other anecdotal reports of upticks in solicitation for sex on the streets around the country that some police departments have attributed to the closure of Backpage, it’s hard to get a full picture. One problem is that police generally lump sex workers and victims of human trafficking into the same statistics, making it hard to tell if there have been more arrests due to one or the other.

Consensual adult sex work and sex trafficking will likely always operate in overlapping spaces—whether online or offline. And just as the crackdown on Backpage has changed the landscape for sex workers, it’s also pushed more sex trafficking onto the streets, where there’s no telling who a client is before getting into a car. The internet certainly made it easier for everyone to sell sex, but it made it safer for a lot of people, too. If the goal is to improve outcomes, lawmakers should consider the reality that sex trafficking victims and sex workers aren’t the same. And in such a criminalized area, built on informal economies and fragile business arrangements with often deeply imbalanced power dynamics, any crackdown that attempts to help one community could be a tragedy for another.

Landmark Senate Bill Introduced to Better Protect Sex Workers

“In 2001 I was raped by a serial rapist who was preying primarily on prostitutes in the city of Oakland,” says Veronica Mamet, a former escort. “I wanted to report that rape, and I was not able to. Rachel West [of the US PROStitutes Collective] tried for about three years to get the Oakland Police Department to take my statement without threatening to arrest me, and they would not do it. And meanwhile, this man continued to rape prostitutes. Three weeks after he raped me he raped another prostitute, and he stabbed her in the face with a knife, permanently scarring her.”

It’s sadly not an uncommon story. Decades of stigma have made it nearly impossible for sex workers to report such crimes to the police without risk of persecution. Current laws are designed to make it ridiculously easy to arrest and charge them — even having condoms on one’s person can be used as evidence that someone is engaging in sex work. Because of this, the majority of violence inflicted upon sex workers goes unreported, over the victim’s not-unjustified fears that they will just be arrested and charged while their assailants walk free.

On Monday, state Senator Scott Wiener introduced new legislation to better protect professional sex workers facing this exact dilemma. Senate Bill 233 eliminates the possibility that condom possession can be used as probable cause for an arrest, and provides long-overdue immunity for sex workers who come forward about assaults.

“We should be doing everything we can to protect the health of safety for all people, particularly sex workers,” Wiener says. “To be a victim of a crime, and then to be fearful that to go to the police to report the crime you yourself might get arrested for sex work… is not the right incentive. We want to send a clear signal to sex workers and everyone else that we want you to report a crime to the police, we want you to feel safe going to the police for help.”

SB 233 is a great step in that direction, and Monday’s announcement was held with the avid support of an array of sex workers and industry advocates.

However, one Senate Bill isn’t going to change decades of persecution, as San Francisco has already witnessed. An agreement drafted by advocates and signed by SFPD Chief Bill Scott in 2017 guaranteed nearly-identical protections for San Francisco sex workers, something that Rachel West of the US PROStitutes Collective called a “huge breakthrough that was really the basis for this bill to come forward.”

But even if the wake of that agreement trust in the SFPD remains fairly low; women on the street continue to report arrests, particularly in the Mission District, where a Sex Worker Abatement Unit has been particularly active. 

“The ongoing situation of police crackdowns going on all over the Bay Area… We all know that that situation makes it very difficult to report,” West says. “Women are busy running from the police because they’re afraid of being arrested. In that type of situation, they’re not going to be very likely to report. These crackdowns undermine San Francisco’s policy and this bill. If their safety is going to be seriously prioritized we have to look at this issue, too.”

Nevertheless, the potential passage of this bill could still help people like Mamet, who was willing to report her rape. And she’s not alone; incidents of violence are high, particularly for street-based prostitutes, sex workers of color, or those who identify as transgender. A study conducted in 2014 by the University of California and St. James Infirmary found that 60 percent of sex workers experience some type of violence while at work; 32 percent said they’d experienced a physical attack, 29 percent had been victim to a sexual assault, and 40 percent of everyone interviewed claimed they’d had a negative interaction with law enforcement when trying to report these incidents.

While much work has to be done to improve relationships between sex workers and police, SB 233 can still be seen as a necessary step in humanizing those who work in the industry. 

“This strikes really close to my heart that the lives of any of us would be considered less valuable because of what we do to support ourselves,” says Mamet. “Anytime we allow predators to prey on a particular population we are giving them permission to prey on all of us. It’s always astounded me that anyone could have a designated population that it’s okay to rape or kill and think that that’s somehow or another okay.” 

Facebook’s Sexual Solicitation Policy is a Honeypot for Trolls

By Elliot Harmon

Facebook just quietly adopted a policy that could push thousands of innocent people off of the platform. The new “sexual solicitation” rules forbid pornography and other explicit sexual content (which was already functionally banned under a different statute), but they don’t stop there: they also ban “implicit sexual solicitation”, including the use of sexual slang, the solicitation of nude images, discussion of “sexual partner preference,” and even expressing interest in sex. That’s not an exaggeration: the new policy bars “vague suggestive statements, such as ‘looking for a good time tonight.’” It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that asking “Netflix and chill?” could run afoul of this policy.

The new rules come with a baffling justification, seemingly blurring the line between sexual exploitation and plain old doing it:

[P]eople use Facebook to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence and exploitation. We recognize the importance of and want to allow for this discussion. We draw the line, however, when content facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults.

In other words, discussion of sexual exploitation is allowed, but discussion of consensual, adult sex is taboo. That’s a classic censorship model: speech about sexuality being permitted only when sex is presented as dangerous and shameful. It’s especially concerning since healthy, non-obscene discussion about sex—even about enjoying or wanting to have sex—has been a component of online communities for as long as the Internet has existed, and has for almost as long been the target of governmental censorship efforts.

Until now, Facebook has been a particularly important place for groups who aren’t well represented in mass media to discuss their sexual identities and practices. At very least, users should get the final say about whether they want to see such speech in their timelines.

Is Facebook now a sex-free zone? Should we be afraid of meeting potential partners on the platform or even disclosing our sexual orientations?

Maybe not. For many users, life on Facebook might continue as it always has. But therein lies the problem: the new rules put a substantial portion of Facebook users in danger of violation. 

Fundamentally, that’s not how platform moderation policies should work—with such broadly sweeping rules, online trolls can take advantage of reporting mechanisms to punish groups they don’t like.

Combined with opaque and one-sided flagging and reporting systems, overly restrictive rules can incentivize abuse from bullies and other bad actors. It’s not just individual trolls either: state actors have systematically abused Facebook’s flagging process to censor political enemies. With these new rules, organizing that type of attack just became a lot easier. A few reports can drag a user into Facebook’s labyrinthine enforcement regime, which can result in having a group page deactivated or even being banned from Facebook entirely. This process gives the user no meaningful opportunity to appeal a bad decision.

Given the rules’ focus on sexual interests and activities, it’s easy to imagine who would be the easiest targets: sex workers (including those who work lawfully), members of the LGBTQ community, and others who congregate online to discuss issues relating to sex. What makes the policy so dangerous to those communities is that it forbids the very things they gather online to discuss.

Even before the recent changes at Facebook and Tumblr, we’d seen trolls exploit similar policies to target the LGBTQ community and censor sexual health resources. Entire harassment campaigns have organized to use payment processors’ reporting systems to cut off sex workers’ income. When online platforms adopt moderation policies and reporting processes, it’s essential that they consider how those policies and systems might be weaponized against marginalized groups.

A recent Verge article quotes a Facebook representative as saying that people sharing sensitive information in private Facebook groups will be safe, since Facebook relies on reports from users. If there are no tattle-tales in your group, the reasoning goes, then you can speak freely without fear of punishment. But that assurance rings rather hollow: in today’s world of online bullying and brigading, there’s no question of if your private group will be infiltrated by the trolls; it’s when.

STOP FOSTA/SESTA

The rule change comes a few months after Congress passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA/FOSTA), and it’s hard not to wonder if the policy is the direct result of the new Internet censorship laws.

SESTA/FOSTA opened online platforms to new criminal and civil liability at the state and federal levels for their users’ activities. While ostensibly targeted at online sex trafficking, SESTA/FOSTA also made it a crime for a platform to “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” The law effectively blurred the distinction between adult, consensual sex work and sex trafficking. The bill’s supporters argued that forcing platforms to clamp down on all sex work was the only way to curb trafficking–nevermind the growing chorus of trafficking experts arguing the very opposite.

As SESTA/FOSTA was debated in Congress, we repeatedly pointed out that online platforms would have little choice but to over-censor: the fear of liability would force them not just to stop at sex trafficking or even sex work, but to take much more restrictive approaches to sex and sexuality in general, even in the absence of any commercial transaction. In EFF’s ongoing legal challenge to SESTA/FOSTA, we argue that the law unconstitutionally silences lawful speech online.

While we don’t know if the Facebook policy change came as a response to SESTA/FOSTA, it is a perfect example of what we feared would happen: platforms would decide that the only way to avoid liability is to ban a vast range of discussions of sex.

Wrongheaded as it is, the new rule should come as no surprise. After all, Facebook endorsed SESTA/FOSTA. Regardless of whether one caused the other or not, both reflect the same vision of how the Internet should work—a place where certain topics simply cannot be discussed. Like SESTA/FOSTA, Facebook’s rule change might have been made to fight online sexual exploitation. But like SESTA/FOSTA, it will do nothing but push innocent people offline.

Lake County task force charges 14 ‘Johns’ in prostitution sting

Frank Abderholden

More than a dozen men from Illinois and Wisconsin were arrested and charged with soliciting a sex act this month by undercover officers with the Lake County Sheriff’s Gang Task Force as part of a continuing effort to reduce the demand for purchased sex, according to authorities.

The task force joined a coalition of federal and local law enforcement agencies during a nationwide effort targeting “Johns,” or customers of prostitutes, through a web-based operation that used classified advertising websites known to police as a medium for prostitution, according to statement issued Wednesday by Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli.

When the suspects arrived at a location in the 4100 block of Fountain Square Place in Waukegan and offered money to undercover detectives for sexual acts, they were arrested and transported to the Lake County jail, according to the statement.

“There is no doubt a correlation between ‘Johns’ and women being sex trafficked,” Sheriff John Idleburg said in the statement. “Sex traffickers take women and juveniles to areas where purchased sexual acts are in high-demand, and northeastern Illinois is no exception.

“Our Gang Task Force will do everything they can to rescue and protect those being forced into involuntary servitude.”

Over the past eight years, the nationwide crackdown led to the arrests of more than 9,000 total “Johns” and sex traffickers. All of the individuals involved in this month’s arrests were charged with solicitation of a sexual act, a Class A misdemeanor, and are scheduled to appear in Lake County Circuit Court on Feb. 25, according to the statement.

Idleburg reminded the community in the statement that all the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Authorities said the following 14 people were arrested and charged:

Martin Barajas, 43, of the 7800 block of 48th Avenue in Kenosha, Wis.

Kyle Brenner, 27, of the 39000 block of N. Dilleys Road in Wadsworth.

Rajasekar Chinnathambi-Somanathan, 39, of the 1000 block of Lakehurst Road in Waukegan.

Aaron Fink, 42, of the 900 block of Gregory Avenue in Wilmette.

Juan Galan, 42, of the 300 block of S. Lewis Avenue in Waukegan.

Leslie Horton, 47, of the 33000 block of N. Mill Road in Grayslake.

Daniel Jones, 26, of the 400 block of Thornwood Drive in Lindenhurst.

Jackie Joyner, 67, of the 5000 block of Key Lane in McHenry.

Roberto Lazcon, 29, of the 1000 block of McCalister Avenue in North Chicago.

Austin Lind, 31, of the 43000 block of N. Kenosha Road in Zion.

Cristobal Paniagua Ferreira, 33, of the 1500 block of Wilson Court in Zion.

Robert Prager, 57, of the 600 block of Rockland Road in Lake Bluff.

Ricardo Sanchez-Angel, 44, of the 200 block of Grove Street in Mundelein.

Matthew Weigl, 49, of the 4100 block of 110th Street in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.

Inside Queens’ hidden sex district

By Sara Dorn and Brad Hamilton

It’s New York City’s Grand Central of illicit sex.

A tiny Queens block has become a booming hotbed of hookers operating out of at least eight Chinese massage parlors, The Post found.

The slim strip of 40th Road in Flushing’s Chinatown, just a short walk from Citi Field, has become a 24/7 destination for sex-seeking horndogs from all over the metro area, as “masseuses” brazenly compete for johns on the narrow sidewalks.

One former NYC crimefighter said he hasn’t seen such a dense concentration of flesh factories in years.

Non-Asian men are specifically targeted by the Chinese pimps, working girls and spotters who steer customers into storefront spaces or second-floor “spas” for hour-long encounters.

It’s the same block where a prostitute committed suicide in 2017 by leaping from a building as she was about to be arrested during a NYPD sting.

Post reporters were solicited three times in the span of two hours on Friday and Saturday on the street.

In one case, the woman didn’t say a word but merely nodded in the direction of a door at 135-25 40th Road, where there is no sign in English and nothing to identify the business. A sign says “Welcome” in Mandarin.

The woman, wearing heavy dark eye make-up and red lipstick, led him up a narrow stairway to a dimly-lit pink waiting room where a gaggle of listless Asian women lounged in lingerie.

She walked the reporter into one of eight rooms, ordered him to undress, and watched while he did so — not standard practice in therapeutic massage.

The woman, who said her name was Sophia and that she came from China, offered the reporter “everything” — a known code word for intercourse in sex-trade massage parlors — for $100.

She seemed surprised when he climbed onto the table on his stomach and said his shoulders were tight.

“Oh! You want regular massage, OK!” she said. She kneaded his muscles for a few minutes, then peeled off her dress, removed her panties and pulled out a strip of condoms.

The reporter faked a back injury, put on his clothes and left.

Complaints filed with the city Buildings Department show allegations of prostitution at the address, including one in November. Inspectors tried twice in the past two months to gain access, records show, but didn’t get in.

The Post obtained shared surveillance tapes showing dozens of men entering and leaving with women, including one clad only in panties and a shirt. One tape features a man groping a young escort from behind as the two walk up the stairs together.

A business owner in the building said customers are offended by the blatant sex for sale.

“I can’t run my business because there are girls in front of the doors and they give me a hard time and my customers,” the owner told the Post through a translator.

A woman in a puffy white coat approached a second reporter outside 135-32 40th Road — the same location as the death leap in 2017 — Saturday.

“Massage?” she asked, offering a rubdown for $30.

“What else can I get?” he asked.

“What else do you want?”

“Sex,” he said.

She offered: “$80 for everything.”

“Including sex?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said.

The reporter was targeted again minutes later at the north end of the block, near the entrance to a subway/LIRR station.

A woman in a long dark coat asked, “Massage?”

She added, “Chicky, chicky” and looked down at his groin and nodded.

The Flushing Business Improvement District says it’s identified eight brothels on that block, between Prince and Main, just around the corner from the Flushing Main Street MTA/LIRR station.

“It’s really gained a tourist image of being an illegal massage place,” said director Dian Song Yu. “That is the last thing we want to be known for.”

That many establishments would be a “large concentration,” said former Queens prosecutor Michael Musa-Obregon.

“You don’t see that,” he said. “Not for years.”

“It’s not good,” said City Councilman Peter Koo. “The least the police can do is force these girls off the street. A lady died from this and nothing has happened.”

His office said complaints made to police have been sent to the department’s vice squad, which have conducted stings and made arrests.

“These places are like whack-a-mole,” said Koo spokesman Scott Sieber. “You hit one, and they pop up in a different location under a different name. We need constant enforcement, so that the cost of doing business becomes too great for that business to sustain itself.”

NYPD Assistant Chief Patrick Conry said the department “works to end prostitution conditions which exist throughout our city, including Flushing.”

He said cops go after pimps, johns and landlords who rent out rooms to brothels — while trying to get help for victimized sex workers.

“The NYPD understands that many of the persons involved are doing so because they are being forced, coerced or otherwise made to against their will.”

FBI WARS: Video of Donald Trump with underage girls says Whistleblower Police child protection specialist

By (from around the web) Christopher R Rice

A Metropolitan Police child protection specialist, takes the lid off the scale of child abuse, trafficking and prostitution in the US. He exposes the lies, threats and intimidation used by the police, local authorities, social services, politicians, charities and others to protect establishment figures and Washington.

NYPost: In 2005, the world was introduced to reclusive billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, friend to princes and an American president, a power broker with the darkest of secrets: He was also a pedophile, accused of recruiting dozens of underage girls into a sex-slave network, buying their silence and moving along, although he has been convicted of only one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor. Visitors to his private Caribbean island, known as “Orgy Island,” have included Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Stephen Hawking and President Donald Trump.

Flight logs show that from 2001 to 2003, Bill Clinton flew on Epstein’s private plane, dubbed “The Lolita Express” by the press, 26 times. After Epstein’s arrest in July 2006, federal tax records show Epstein donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation that year.

Epstein was also a regular visitor to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, and the two were friends. According to the Daily Mail, Trump was a frequent dinner guest at Epstein’s home, which was often full of barely dressed models. In 2003, New York magazine reported that Trump also attended a dinner party at Epstein’s honoring Bill Clinton.

The Guardian reported that Epstein’s “little black book” contained contact numbers for A-listers including Tony Blair, Naomi Campbell, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.

In a 2006 court filing, Palm Beach police noted that a search of Epstein’s home uncovered two hidden cameras.

The Mirror reported that in 2015, a 6-year-old civil lawsuit filed by “Jane Doe No. 3,” believed to be the now-married Giuffre, alleged that Epstein wired his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving his prominent friends and underage girls. The ultimate purpose: blackmail, according to court papers.

“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years,” Trump said. “Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

Palm Beach Police Officer Michele Pagan got a disturbing message. A woman reported that her 14-year-old stepdaughter confided to a friend that she’d had sex with an older man for money. The man’s name was Jeff, and he lived in a mansion on a cul-de-sac.

Pagan persuaded the woman to bring her stepdaughter down to be interviewed. In his book, Patterson calls the girl Mary. And Mary, like so many of the other girls who eventually talked, came from the little-known working-class areas surrounding Palm Beach.

Palm Beach assigned six more detectives to the investigation. They conducted a “trash pull” of Epstein’s garbage, sifting through paper with phone numbers, used condoms, toothbrushes, worn underwear. In one pull, police found a piece of paper with Mary’s phone number on it, along with the number of the person who recruited her.

On Sept. 11, 2005, detectives got another break. Alison, as she’s called in the book, told Detective Joe Recarey that she had been going to Epstein’s house since she was 16.

Alison told Recarey that she visited Epstein hundreds of times. She said he had bought her a new 2005 Dodge Neon, plane tickets, and gave her spending money. Alison said he even asked her to emancipate from her parents so she could live with him full-time as his “sex slave.”

Two months later, Recarey interviewed Epstein’s former house manager of 11 years, documented in his probable-cause affidavit as Mr. Alessi. “Alessi stated Epstein receives three massages a day . . . towards the end of his employment, the masseuses . . . appeared to be 16 or 17 years of age at the most . . . [Alessi] would have to wash off a massager/vibrator and a long rubber penis, which were in the sink after the massage.”

Another house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told Recarey that very young girls were giving Epstein massages at least twice a day, and in one instance, Epstein had Rodriguez deliver one dozen roses to Mary, at her high school.

Palm Beach prosecutors said the evidence was weak, and after presenting the case to a grand jury, Epstein was charged with only one count of felony solicitation of prostitution. In 2008, he pleaded guilty and nominally served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in a county jail: Epstein spent one day a week there, the other six out on “work release.”

President Donald Trump’s new secretary of labor, Alexander Acosta, — while he was the top federal prosecutor in Miami — cut a sweetheart plea deal in 2008 with a billionaire investor accused of having sex with dozens of underage girls.

As the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, Acosta agreed not to file any federal charges against the wealthy financier, Jeffrey Epstein, if he pled guilty to state charges involving soliciting prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution.  Epstein ultimately received an 18-month sentence in county jail and served about 13 months — treatment that provoked outrage from alleged victims in the case.

Soon after the deal was cut in 2008, two women filed suit claiming that the decision to forgo federal prosecution violated a federal law — the Crime Victims Rights Act — because they and other teenagers Epstein paid for sex were never adequately consulted about the plea deal or given an opportunity to object to it.

Acosta acknowledged to the media in 2011 that he came under extreme pressure from Epstein’s high-powered defense team, which included legal heavyweights such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Florida criminal defense attorney Roy Black.

Acosta said Epstein’s defense mounted “a yearlong assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors.”

Attorneys arranged a sweetheart plea deal for Epstein in 2008. Starr played a key role in arranging lenient treatment for Epstein whose federal-state prosecution a decade ago occurred concurrently under the administrations of President George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (1999-2007) and Jeb Bush’s successor Charlie Crist (2007-2011), who had been state attorney general during the beginning of the Epstein case.

A plaintiff “Jane Doe 3,” later identified as a California native Virginia Roberts, accused Epstein as treating her as a “sex slave” beginning when she was 15 as part of a massive sex trafficking operation he ran exploiting girls in their mid-teens, below the legal age of consent.

Roberts, now 31, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, Epstein’s attorney Dershowitz, and French modeling scout Jean Luc Brunel.

By Andrew Kreig Justice Integrity Report: The federal-state agreement enabled Epstein to spend just eight hours a day in a county jail and for authorities to agree not to prosecute anyone else. South Florida lawyer and Ring of Fire radio host Mike Papantonio commented that the no-prosecution deal “is unheard of….That never happens.”

A list of Epstein’s contacts compiled by a Florida house manager listed access information for the Queen of England, the current King of Saudi Arabia, former President Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, rock stars at the Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson level, fashion gurus, media moguls, and financiers at the Rothschild and Rockefeller level, among dozens of others wealthy, powerful contacts.

Epstein went to jail nights for 13 months in a special wing of a local jail, maintained his freedom during the day, and emerged in 2011 to scoff at his critics, as reported by the New York Post in Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein: I’m a sex offender, not a predator. The newspaper reported that imperious ex-con used his $50 million New York City mansion to celebrate his release from a Florida jail “with his close pal, Britain’s Prince Andrew.”

The Epstein case is worth studying in part because of the high stakes for sex scandals and blackmail at such levels. The Epstein scandal illustrates, yet again, a two-tiered American justice system where wealth and political influence can often win lenient treatment even in heinous, well-documented cases.

The Guardian on Feb. 7 published Video exists of underage sex with powerful men, based on a new affidavit Roberts filed the previous day. Her claim that the FBI likely possesses video alleges the goal of blackmail. 

The plaintiff filings also claimed, “Epstein instructed Jane Doe #3 that she was to give the prince whatever he demanded and required Jane Doe #3 to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse.” Roberts claimed that Epstein’s “‘lending’ of young girls to prominent international figures – foreign presidents and U.S. politicians and businessmen among them – was to ‘ingratiate’ himself and ‘so that he could potentially blackmail them.”  

Roberts wrote also: “There were times when I was physically abused to the point that I remember fearfully thinking that I didn’t know whether I was going to survive,” Roberts said in a new court filing.

Epstein’s conviction was a triumph of defense lawyering. The charge of soliciting a prostitute did not carry the stigma and penalties of systematic sexual abuse of girls not old enough to provide informed consent under the law. The age of legal consent varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the United States, but most states set the age between 14 and 18. Those adults found guilty of sexual activities with mid-teen minors are liable to such charges as child sexual abuse, statutory rape, illegal carnal knowledge, and corruption of a minor.

Columnist Wayne Madsen has combined the tabloid elements of the Epstein case with investigative dimensions based on his 14 years experience as a Navy Intelligence officer and recent inspection of the federal court file in West Palm Beach.  

In four columns last month, Madsen reported that Epstein’s lawyers have fought a fierce but so far unsuccessful effort to seal documents.  Madsen has often reported that prominent members of politics and the media have secret intelligence ties. Madsen has, for example, reiterated Seymour Hersh’s 1991 scoop that the press lord Maxwell had been a longtime asset for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad before his death.   

Madsen is among those who have also reported that the world’s largest insurance company, the American International Group (AIG), became after its founding by Ken Starr’s uncle, the late Cornelius V. Starr (1892-1968), a vital component of CIA operations in high-level intrigues spanning the globe.   

Cornelius Starr’s successor beginning 1960 was his chauffeur’s son Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, who would become both a multi-billionaire and a serious candidate in 1996 to become CIA director after authoring “Making Intelligence Smarter: The Future of U.S. Intelligence,” a major strategic memo published by the Council on Foreign Relations.   

During the financial crisis of 2008-09, AIG received from the holdover Bush and incoming Obama officials approval for $182 billion in federal bailouts from taxpayers under suspicious circumstances — and then awarded its senior executives more than a billion dollars in bonuses.

Several years earlier, New York Attorney Gen. Eliot Spitzer, right, had infuriated AIG and other Wall Street executives by his aggressive investigations of AIG along with other Wall Street defendants whom Spitzer accused of securities fraud and similar white collar offenses. With complex operations in more than 100 nations, AIG had been reporting for years false profits on a massive scale.   

But Spitzer’s bank reported to the U.S. Treasury Department financial transactions involving Spitzer, a Democrat who was by then New York’s governor potentially poised for a bright future as a corruption-fighter. Agents traced the governor’s spending to the Emperors Club, which turned out to be an escort service providing expensive call girls. The New York Times obtained leaked information from authorities. The newspaper reported on March 10, 2008 that Spitzer had used prostitutes on multiple occasions, including one repeatedly profiled.   

In disgrace, Spitzer resigned as governor the same week, thereby illustrating to court watchers the dangers a corrupt life-style — especially when combined with investigating powerful entities. Clearly, even an investigator’s supposedly confidential personal banking information could find its way to the front page.

IBC Times, Roberts claims FBI have videos of her having sex with high-profile people, Priya Joshi, Feb. 7, 2015. Virginia Roberts said she often feared for her life after being subjected to physical abuse by Epstein’s friends. “Without going into the details of the sexual activities I was forced to endure, there were times when I was physically abused to the point that I remember fearfully thinking that I didn’t know whether I was going to survive.” She adds that when she told Epstein about the abuse, the billionaire responded saying “you get that sometimes.”

Mirror, Prince Andrew may have been secretly filmed with underage girl he is alleged to have abused, Matthew Drake, Jan. 3, 2015. Prince Andrew’s tycoon pal may have taken compromising photos of him with the underage girl he is alleged to have abused. Details buried in original court papers filed against pervert Jeffrey Epstein, 61, reveal that he recorded the sordid orgies he threw for VIPs at his luxury homes using cameras hidden in the walls of guest bedrooms. The financier, who was jailed for 18 months in 2008 after pleading guilty to solicitation for prostitution, kept a sickening stash of images on a computer seized at his Palm Beach mansion in 2006.

Washington Post, Ex-Baylor president Ken Starr could get Trump administration position, Des Bieler, Feb. 10, 2017. Ken Starr, known for his role in the Monica Lewinsky investigation during Bill Clinton’s presidency and, more recently, for leaving high-level positions at Baylor University amid the football program’s ongoing sexual-assault scandal, is reportedly close to joining President Trump’s administration. Starr is among a handful of candidates in the running to be named ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom at the State Department.

Washington Post, Baylor rape scandal involves recruiting ‘hostess’ program. These things still exist? Will Hobson, Feb 2, 2017. The NCAA passed a rule to move such groups out of athletic departments in 2004, but recent scandals illustrate their persistence — and perils. The latest lawsuit against Baylor University alleging rampant rape committed by football players with impunity has again cast attention on college “hostess clubs,” groups of women often selected for appearance and personality to greet prized high school football recruits when they visit campus.

There is evidence Epstein kept cameras hidden in the bedrooms of his various homes. Damaging videos of sitting U.S. politicians abusing schoolgirls could constitute a national security threat, providing sources of blackmail.

Prince Andrew and Donald Trump are the only currently serving political figures alleged to have participated in Epstein’s underage activities.

“On the day of his arrest, police found two hidden cameras and photographs of underage girls on a computer in the defendant’s home. … [He] may have taken lewd photographs of Jane Doe 102 with his hidden cameras and transported [them] to his other residences and elsewhere.”

The Trump connection is worth understanding as Mossad daughter Ghislaine Maxwell recruited and trafficked Virginia Roberts from Trumps exclusive Palm Beach Mara Lago resort where she worked in the coat check room.

Today, Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, albeit one who routinely settles civil lawsuits against him, brought by young women, out of court. And Donald Trump is the President being blackmailed by the FBI.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Exploited teen in law enforcement sex scandal drops suit against Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office

By FOX2

A woman who was sexually exploited by law enforcement officers from multiple departments across the Bay Area has dropped her lawsuit against the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in light of a judge’s ruling to dismiss the criminal case against a former deputy.

The woman’s sexual encounters with police officers began when she was underage, leading to an expansive scandal that resulted in discipline for a dozen Oakland police officers and criminal charges for seven current and former officers from three departments.

Three officers faced felony charges, including Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Perez. Perez, 29, was initially charged with oral copulation with a minor and two counts of engaging in lewd conduct.

In August, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office added another charge of oral copulation with a minor based on evidence that came to light during a preliminary hearing.

But a judge dismissed the criminal case against Perez earlier this month, finding that prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence that Perez knew the woman was underage when he had sex with her. With the collapse of the case against Perez, prosecutors also dropped felony charges against Oakland police Officer Giovanni LoVerde, who remains on the force.

The woman already won a nearly $1 million settlement against the city of Oakland. In August, she filed lawsuits against the Richmond Police Department and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman’s attorney, John Burris, said today that he decided to no longer pursue the lawsuit against Contra Costa County further because of the judge’s ruling.

“He lost his job, so he’s no longer a police officer, he got humiliated by all the sexual transgressions that came forth,” Burris said.

“From my point of view, this is just one of a number of cases we have and we think that she would be better served if we pursued the case against Richmond and all the officers there.”

The woman sued Richmond in August, alleging substantial misconduct by multiple officers, including that some officers had sex with her in exchange for protection and others had asked her to disrobe when they came by her house. The suit also accused her school resource officer, Terrance Jackson, of groping her at her home.

No Richmond police officers faced criminal charges, though several were disciplined.

Burris said that because the case against Richmond police involved multiple officers, there was a more clear systemic failure on the part of the department as opposed to the case in Contra Costa County, which involved only the single deputy.

Perez was placed on leave in June 2016 as details of the scandal emerged and resigned later that month. In court documents, prosecutors said that he had sex with the woman about 10 times in a dirt turnout near Fish

Ranch Road in the Oakland Hills, a popular location for sexual activity by teenagers.

After the lawsuit against Contra Costa County was filed in August, Sheriff David Livingston said that the department would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit, stressing that Perez’s conduct was off-duty and that he had resigned in lieu of termination.

Asked for comment on the lawsuit’s dismissal today, sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said he hadn’t heard it had happened.

‘Teacher of the Year’ who hosted teen sex parties goes to prison

By Joshua Rhett Miller

A former high school teacher who hosted sex parties for teenage boys — including a “bros night” that featured a front-door sign urging them to get naked — has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jared Anderson, who was honored as teacher of the year at Judson High School in Texas just two months prior to his arrest in March 2016, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual performance by a child and two count of indecency with a child by exposure as part of a plea deal about one month ago, attorney Eduardo Garcia told the San Antonio Express-News.

Anderson, 29, taught English at the high school in the San Antonio suburb of Converse for about a year. Police said two victims told authorities that Anderson had been hosting parties for several months at his home that involved sexually charged games with multiple boys.

Anderson’s arrest led school officials to recall yearbooks in order to remove a page that cited him as Teacher of the Year just two months earlier, the Express-News reports. He was later indicted on several counts of sexual performance by a child and was placed on administrative leave by schools officials before being fired.

Anderson hosted one party at his home on Feb. 12, 2016, that he called a “bros night,” with seven boys ranging from 15 to 17 years old, a San Antonio police spokesman told the newspaper. A sign on the door of the home read: “The last one to get naked has to get the first dare.”

All of the boys eventually got undressed before Anderson coerced them into lewd conduct, WOAI reports.

Anderson, who admitted hosting the parties at the time of his arrest, was also a group leader at a local church, where all seven of the victims were members, according to KSAT.

“He wanted to be accepted by them and so he was willing to do whatever it took,” church counselor Ian Vassiloras testified during Anderson’s sentencing hearing Monday.

Anderson had been undergoing intense therapy since his arrest, Vassiloras said.

“He’s human,” Vassiloras testified. “There might be some little tidbits popping up, but it will never lead him down this path again.”

Garcia had asked a judge for deferred adjudication, a form of probation, but prosecutors argued he was a “horrible” candidate for that type of sentencing.

“My only recourse is to give you 10 years or give you probation,” Judge Steve Hilbig said. “And frankly, sir, I don’t believe you deserve deferred adjudication.”

Anderson faced up to 20 years in prison, the Express-News reports. In addition to 10 years in prison, he was fined $9,000, according to court records.