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ARTICLE # TEXT OF ARTICLE
RELATED DOCUMENTS
CHP00001
NO INDICTMENTS DUE IN S.F. COPS' SEX PARTY
DATE:
August 2, 1984

SOURCE:
San Francisco Chronicle

By Robert Popp

The grand jury has decided not to indict any of the San Francisco police officers involved in the April police graduation party that ended with public sex act between a prostitute and an officer.

"I've been advised by the grand jury that they will not be returning any indictments" in the case, said San Francisco District Attorney Arlo Smith.

"We've presented all of the information developed during the investigation by my officer and the police department," said Smith, who took care to note that the investigations were separate. "Fifteen witnesses appeared and testified, and this is their decision."

Police sources close to the jury suggested that jurors may have been influences by the fact that disciplinary action already has been taken against several officers by the Police Commission and that the main witnesses were prostitutes.

All four officers have been fired, two suspended pending departmental hearings and five face internal charges of "secondary misconduct" in connection with the sex scandal, which has engulfed the department in controversy for months.

Word of the grand jury decision was slow in reaching rank-and- file officers yesterday, but when informed yesterday evening, Mission Station police Sergeant Donald Sloan commented: "That's great. Like everyone else (around here) I just think it made good reading material."

Chief Con Murphy could not be reached yesterday for comment.

However, police public affairs officer John Hennessey said: "Even though the grand just has decided not to take action, the officers involved are held to certain standards by the Police Department, and that's why they were charged with misconduct and disciplinary action was taken against them."

Although the grand jury proceedings are closed, it was learned that at least two prostitutes were called to testify, including the woman who was paid by the officers to perform oral sex on a handcuffed police cadet.

The Police Academy graduation party occurred at the Rathskeller restaurant, a popular police hangout near City Hall. About 75 officers and guests had gathered there to congratulate the 156th graduating class.

OUR
COMMENTS
Read more about this story in the following articles: we will comment on this entire story at the end of all the articles

CHP00001
HITHER, THITHER AND YAWN
DATE:
May 5, 1984

SOURCE:
San Francisco Chronicle

By Herb Caen

By now you've heard about the current scandal in the S.F. Police Dept.-- the public sex scene that was the lowlight of a party thrown by the Police Academy graduating class in the Rathskeller restaurant on Turk. The story goes that a prostitute was hired to force her attentions on an "unwilling" rookie-- to the hoots and taunts of the crowd. And why was he unwilling? Because he's gay. Sighs a veteran inspector, "It was gross. In fact it made the raunchy movie 'Police Academy' look like 'Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."............
OUR
COMMENTS
Read more about this story in the following articles: we will comment on this entire story at the end of all the articles

PROSTITUTE AT COP PARTY TO TESTIFY TODAY
DATE:
May 17, 1984

SOURCE:
San Francisco Chronicle

By Robert Popp and Randy Shilts

The woman who allegedly performed a sex act on a cadet at a police graduation party is scheduled to testify this morning before a criminal grand jury, the Chronicle learned.

Meanwhile, one of six San Francisco police officers suspended in connection with the incident was reinstated yesterday.

After a brief suspension, Sergeant Layne Amiot, who was acting lieutenant in charge of Northern Station the night of the party, was returned to duty yesterday evening in the department's technical services division of the Hall of Justice.

The San Francisco criminal grand jury has so far subpoenaed two women in the case, including the woman allegedly hired by two vice cops to orally copulate a recruit during the rowdy Police Academy graduation party at the Rathskeller restaurant on April 26, sources close to the investigation said.

A friend of the woman also has been subpoenaed, they said.

Although the woman had indicated that she would refuse to testify on the grounds that she might incriminate herself, sources close to the case expect the district attorney's office to seek immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for her testimony.

Law enforcement sources said the 22-year-old woman, who has used at least two names, has been arrested four times for prostitution and once for obstructing a sidewalk. One prostitution charge is pending, and the other four charges were dismissed. All but one of the arrests occurred this year.

The woman's attorney, Peter Keane of the public defender's office, has notified Chief Con Murphy "out of an abundance of caution" that he is concerned for the woman's safety, citing "rumors of death threats that have been made against" her.

Amiot, the suspended officer, returned to duty, did not attend the gathering at the Rathskeller restaurant, but he was accused of covering up for an officer who tended bar at the party and then amended his time card.

Acting Police Chief George Eimil held an hour long hearing into the charges on Monday. After conferring with Murphy, he issued a statement yesterday in Murphy's name saying "no involvement" in the party incident could be attributed to Amiot.

The statement said questions regarding Amiot's supervisory performance would be further investigated by the department's management control unit.

Amiot was not available for comment yesterday, but Al Casciato, president of the Police Officers Association, said he was "very, very pleased" with the chief's decision. Casciato called it "a step in the right direction," and dais of Amiot, "I know he feels very happy and vindicated."

OUR
COMMENTS
Read more about this story in the following articles: we will comment on this entire story at the end of all the articles

POLICE PARTY PROSTITUTE ARRESTED
DATE:
Friday, May 18th, 1984 - on her arrest the day she testified before the grand jury

SOURCE:
San Francisco Chronicle

The woman reputed to have performed a sex act on a San Francisco police cadet was arrested early yesterday on prostitution charges, prompting an unprecedented order from police brass.

Acting San Francisco Police Chief George Eimil directed all officers yesterday to exercise caution when dealing with the woman in the future to avoid the appearance of harassment.

In the written order issued late yesterday, Eimil said the woman should be arrested if she clearly breaks the law [something the vice cops also did when they hired her to perform at the party but were not arrested] but noted that any arrest involving the woman should be well documented because of the internal police investigation and her involvement in it.

Eimil said he personally spoke to all supervising officers in the Police department and they will be held responsible to make sure the order is carried out.

The order is believed to be the first issued concerning an individual in San Francisco.

This is the woman who allegedly performed oral sex on a cadet at a police graduating party on April 26. She was apparently taken to the party by police officers and paid for her services. As a result, the entire graduating class was ordered to be retrained on police ethics and conduct and five police officers were suspended.

The woman, who has not been publicly named so far, was arrested on a Tenderloin corner about 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

Two officers spotted her and two female friends on a Tenderloin corner talking to two men, according to police reports. When the officers approached the group, the two women and the two men separately left the area, police said.

OUR
COMMENTS
Read more about this story in the following articles: we will comment on this entire story at the end of all the articles

CHP00002
POLICE PARTY HOOKER TELLS HER SIDE OF THE STORY
DATE:
May 10, 1984

SOURCE:
San Francisco Examiner

By Phil Bronstein, Leslie Guevarra and Seth Rosenfeld

The prostitute who said she was paid by police officers to perform a sex act at a private party for graduates of the San Francisco Police Academy says she was "shocked" when she walked into a local restaurant to do her job.

"They told me it was a bachelor party," said the 22-year old woman in an interview with The Examiner. The room was filled with police officers she recognized, some of them women. "I was ready to walk right back out the door."

Instead, she said, she performed an act of oral copulation on a recent Academy graduate who was handcuffed to a chair while some of the 70 partygoers-- most of whom were police officers-- cheered her on "like a football game."

Two rookie cops, a pair of vice squad officers and two veteran officers have been suspended and face charges filed with the Police Commission as a result of the incident that Police Chief Cornelius Murphy said has "brought more discredit on the department than anything I can recall in my 32 years,"

The prostitute said she did not know what percentage of those present were aware of what she was doing.

The handcuffed graduate was not a "victim," she said. "He was willing, he was willing."

The officer has said in a newspaper interview that he tried to get away.

Now, she says , "I wish I wouldn't ever have done it. I didn't know nothing like this would happen."

Since that night two weeks ago, the woman said she has been interviewed by two police "administrators" who taped her statement and, just last night, by "criminal investigators."

The prostitute, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition that her name not be used has a record of numerous arrests for prostitution-related offenses in the Tenderloin area.

According to the prostitute, on the night of April 26 she stood on her usual San Francisco street corner, dressed in a white outfit. The time was 9 p.m., her usual starting hour.

At 9:30, two officers she knew but would not identify in the interview, picked her up in an unmarked car. "They asked me if I wanted to go to a bachelor party and give their friend (an act of oral copulation). At the time, they didn't tell me he was a police officer." [it should be noted here that this constitutes a felony crime of pandering, or "encouraging a person to commit an act of prostitution. Others convicted of this crime are mandated by law to spend from three to six years behind bars for this offense. The founder of ISWFACE was at this very time on trial for one count of pandering for agreeing to fulfill the fantasy of her then 50-year-old, 250 lb. friend, in which the only activity that took place was a conversation that included the words "yes there is money involved" when asked by the "victim" if she would get paid, and the words " nothing you haven't done in an adult relationship" when asked by the same "victim" what she would be expected to do. The 'date' never took place, nor did the 'victim' ever meet the client. For saying those words, Norma Jean Almodovar spent 18 months in State prison, 50 of those days in solitary confinement because of her police background.]

Charges filed yesterday with the Police Commission named Peter Balestreri and Joseph Hession as the two on-duty vice officers who allegedly invited a prostitute to the party.

The woman told The Examiner she was driven by the two officers to the Rathskeller restaurant on Turk Street. One officer walked in the door while the other stayed behind and gave the woman $55 in small bills. It was the firs time the subject of money had been brought up, she aid. "He said they passed around the hat before they got me."

When she entered the restaurant, she saw the crowd of men and women and a man on a stage area, his hands handcuffed to a chair and a coat over his head. "I was really nervous. I went straight to the bathroom."

When she came out, they wanted me to get on the stage naked with this guy and I told them no because there were women in the place. They said don't worry about it cause all the women were dykes. I knew a few of the guys, I told them no, I wasn't going to get undressed."

The crowd "was cheering, you know how men are. Everybody in the party was drunk."

The woman said she was "there to do a job" and walked onto the stage. With the help of three officers, the woman says she pulled down the handcuffed man's pants. The coat that was thrown over the man's head "was taken off and put back on several times" while she performed the sex act. "He acted like he was really enjoying it. It wasn't no forced thing, I knew him from Northern police station (which patrols her working area). He was a kinda shy officer. But he coulda told me no and I wouldn'ta done it."

The sex act took 10 minutes, the woman said. "It wasn't nothing, really. I hardly had to do nothing. It was hard cause the women were there but they acted like they didn't even know I was in the room."

(The rookie officer has said that he tried to break free before the woman began the sex act, which he recalled as lasting only six or seven seconds "before somebody in the audience figured this has gone far enough and yanked her off me.")

Said the prostitute: "There was one guy, I don't know if he was police or not. He came up and grabbed me and told me to get the hell out of there. And he wouldn't let go of my arm so I could leave. Then one of the policemen came up to him and they started fighting."

According to the charges filed with the Police Commission, it was Hession who physically interfered when another officer at the party attempted to stop the sex act.

The man who grabbed her, the woman told The Examiner, was "the a--- who ruined the whole thing."

While the two men fought, "a lady came up to me and told me to leave or I was going to jail. I got the hell out of there."

(It was an irate female police officer who alerted members of the press to the incident.)

The prostitute was back at her corner by10:30 p.m. "I took the money they gave me and got drunk."

She didn't find out until the story hit the paper and the gossip was on the streets that the party had been thrown for Police Academy graduates or that the place was a restaurant where other people were dining at the time she was performing on stage. "I thought it was just a bar. It looked like a bar."

The prostitute told only a few of her friends-- working colleagues--- about the incident. She said a few police officers warned her not to tell anyone about that night.

A week later, she and a friend where riding in a taxi when an unmarked police car stopped the cab and the two occupants flashed police badges at the driver.

Both women were taken "to an office" for questioning, apparently by investigators from the Internal Affairs Bureau. She claims they refused to let her go until she named the officers in the incident, that they threatened to put her name and picture in the papers. "They were really mad. I was really scared."

Last night, two "criminal investigators"-- possibly a deputy district attorney and a district attorney's investigator assigned to the incident-- picked her up and took her to their office." The time she had an attorney. She refused to give them a statement.

The woman is worried about her future. "I work out there. If I get police in trouble it's going to be tough for me."

She still speaks respectfully of many of the officers involved and calls some of the "my friends."

April 26 was "the first time anything approaching the stage sex had ever occurred with police involvement, she said. No officer had ever before been a customer.

The 34 members of the San Francisco Police Academy's 156th graduating class not suspended by the chief, including two who didn't attend the party, have been sent back to school for a 30- day review of law, ethics and officer's conduct.

In addition to the internal probe, the district attorney's office at Murphy's request is investigating the possibility of filing criminal charges against officers said to be involved in staging the sex act. [in other words, the officers who engaged in felony pandering.]

OUR
COMMENTS

A HARD LOOK/ THE SECRET CODE THAT KEEP COPS FROM 'SNITCHING'
DATE:
May 10, 1984

SOURCE:
San Francisco Examiner

By Ivan Sharpe Examiner staff writer

At its worst, the police code of silence has sent innocent people to jail. It has ruined and humiliated officers and forced others to undergo taunts and abuse as snitches.

Its rules are unwritten. But, as San Francisco Police Chief Cornelius Murphy said in a soul-searching letter to his officers last week, the code can be more powerful than any code of ethics.

It has been called the Blue Curtain. Veteran officers admit there are few Serpicos (police such as the legendary New York officer who exposed corruption) around with the courage to throw it open.

Although the penalties for snitching are not as extreme as the Mafia's police officers who turn in their colleagues for wrong doing face nights of sleepless anguish.

One veteran officer at San Francisco's Central Station, who let it be known years ago that he did not approve of his colleagues accepting small bribes from bar owners, said he was shunned and called crazy.

"It was a painful time," he recalled last week. The chief's letter made us all look deeply within ourselves. It's been churning in me.

"I still struggle over whether I would have been better off just keeping my mouth shut. I don't think I have ever really resolved it."

In a recent San Francisco court case, Officer Ernest Wilberg admitted he lied when as a rookie officer he said he had not seen his partner kicking a man. Since changing his testimony, he has been called a "snitch," and worse, by other officers.

The public caught a glimpse of the code of silence at work last week when officers at a Police Academy graduation party refused to incriminate those who had brought in a prostitute to perform oral sex on a handcuffed rookie.

Murphy admitted that peer pressure can be "enormous and overwhelming, "but urged his officers to make a choice between loyalty to fellow officers and a sworn duty to uphold the law and public trust.

Lt. William Taylor, in charge of the internal investigation of the prostitute incident, said the willingness of officers to cover up for each other has made his 14 years of investigating public complaints of misconduct "extremely frustrating."

"One of the things I have never been able to understand is why an officers expects a colleague will life for him if he gets involved in an illegal situation," he said.

Since courts and juries assume officers have no motives for lying in cases of their words against a defendants', he also said that the code of silence has resulted in "repeated miscarriages of justice." Yet, Taylor said, if an officer has beat up on a suspect or faked evidence, "they have every motive in the world to lie."

Recruits are taught at the Police Academy to report unethical conduct by their colleagues.

A standard question asked of police recruits is: "If you saw your partner taking a bottle of liquor out of a store without paying for it what would you do?"

Said Inspector Jack Ballentine, who teaches at the academy: "The answer is that you'd report it, not ask to share the bottle, if you want the job."

But once out on the streets, the rookie officer often faces sterner tests- gray shades of corruption and unethical behavior that force painful choices.

Said Taylor, "First they might stop and have a drink on duty. Then, if he passes that test, they might feel him out about whether he is willing to accept gratuities in exchange for looking the other way at a bookie operation, or at a bar that stays open after closing time.

"Once confirmed, the new officers becomes one of the boys."

Soon, the gray areas become more like the black and white. And the question is: Where do you draw the line?

Deputy Chief Richard Trueb said Murphy does not expect a report every time an officer accepts a free cup of coffee. Yet former Chief Charles Gain put several restaurants off limits because of their practice of giving officers cut-rate or free meals.

Asked whether he would have come forward to report the prostitute's sex act with a recruit had he been at the party, Don Carlson, the officer newly appointed to teach ethics at the academy replied, "I would hope I would."

Carlson, a training sergeant since 1980, said, "I recognize that choices like that.... are probably one of the hardest choices a police officer has to make.

"Peer pressure is very strong in law enforcement. And we really can't teach people to make those choices. The real reasons.... come from within yourself."

Carlson said he once had to make such a choice himself. While declining to provide details or to say whether he had made a report or kept silent, he recalled, "It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. And even today I am not sure that I did the right thing. But I can live with that."

The rule to keep your mouth shut and never squeal on a fellow officer exists in police departments across the country. Sociologist William Wesley, who studied police secrecy in the 1950's and again in 1970, said that 77 percent of officers interviewed would rather commit perjury than testify against their partners.

He also reported that not a single officer was willing to report other officers for unwarranted brutality.

San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara began trying to persuade his officers to stop covering up for each other seven to eight years ago.

As an example of the turnaround he has achieved, McNamara cites a current case in which an officer came forward to report that three of his colleagues had had sex with an underage girl.

"I think Con Murphy is on the right track my making a public appeal to the officers' professionalism," he said. "It's not easy to do, but the officers have to understand... they must report these things."

Trueb pointed out that codes of silence exist among physicians, lawyers and even truck drivers.

McNamara said officers cover up for each other because "we share danger and we often share abuse from the public... We know we're always open to attack, both personally and professionally. There's a feeling we've got to stick together and trust each other, no matter what."

San Francisco Park Station Sgt. David Roccaforte, who trains officers in crowd control, put the feeling more succinctly: "We gotta take care of ourselves.... The only friends we got are each other."

And he said that leads to situations where an officer covers for his partners when he visits a girlfriend, or officers will back each other up when a crime report is fudged.

Inspector John Willet, a 14- year veteran, admits that his colleagues might have protected him when he was overzealous in making arrests. "I remember a Mission Station sergeant telling me I had too many resisters (suspects charged with resisting arrest) in the wagon and telling me, 'Keep your cool.'"

Other officers, however, claim the code of silence is exaggerated. Said Ballentine, "I think the code of silence has about as much credibility as honor among thieves. They are both myths."

But he admitted the Police Department in the past has covered up "much more serious professional breaches" than last week's sex party.

Examiner staff writers John Flinn and Larry Maatz
contributed to this report.

OUR
COMMENTS
by Norma Jean Almodovar
Re-reading these articles as I type in the text has brought back so many unpleasant memories of the same time period during which I was experiencing the consequences of "squealing" on the LAPD, of which I was once an employee. This San Francisco scandal was ongoing while I was on trial in Los Angeles for one count of pandering, for which I was convicted and sent to prison for three years. The officers who hired the prostitute, an act of pandering, were not arrested for any crime.

[You can read more about my case on my personal website at http://www.normajeanalmodovar.com/mybio.html if you are interested in learning what happened; therefore I won't expand on my case here.]

One of the most bothersome features of working for the police and which lead me to leave the LAPD in 1982 was the code of silence. Despite what San Francisco Inspector Jack Ballentine says, the code of silence is very real and alive and well throughout the entire world. It is not limited to US cops nor is it confined to local police agencies. It is one of the most pervasive, destructive forces in law enforcement and one of the primary reasons that any activities which involve consenting adults-- including taking drugs, gambling or any kind of consenting adult sexual activity (whether or not commercial) -- should not be criminalized.

Cops, being human, cannot be trusted to "protect" us from ourselves because they cannot be trusted to protect us from THEM.

There are, of course, many other reasons adults ought to be treated as adults and 'allowed' to engage in whatever self- destructive behavior they like, so long as they don't involve children, or other adults who are unwilling, and aren't done in public places where others might be unknowingly placed at risk without their consent. However, I know that libertarian ideas of individual liberty and responsibility are considered far too radical by most people, so I shall leave out the other activities in the present discussion.

The police/ prostitute scandal in San Francisco is far from isolated. If it hadn't been for the irate female officer leaking the incident to the press, the likelihood of an investigation into the incident would have been slim to none. There certainly would have been no suspensions. As it was, there were no indictments, no arrests for the same type of "criminal activity" (pandering) that warranted removing me from society for three years.

How can you help those who are truly victims of slavery if you cannot -or worse, will not - differentiate between one who is a victim and one who is not?


JAP00002
JUDGE SAYS LAW DOESN'T PROTECT PROSTITUTES,
DROPS RAPE COUNT
DATE:
April 24, 1986

SOURCE:
Los Angeles Times

By Mark Arax, Times Staff Writer

Several jurors have criticized a Pasadena judge's decision to dismiss charges against a man accused of raping and sodomizing a prostitute, saying they believed the prostitute's testimony and were offended by the judge's characterization of the case as a "breach of contract between a whore and trick."

Pasadena Superios Court Judge Gilbert C. Alston granted his own motion last week for a find of not guilty in the case against Daniel Zabuski, 25, of Alhambra, a former South Gate police jailer. In granting the motion, court transcripts show, Alston made a general statement that a working prostitute could not be the victim of rape, even is she was forced to engage in sexual intercourse.

"I was just thunderstruck at his whole statement...the whlole idea of what he was saying," juror Sunnie Linscott said. "I interpreted it as being, 'We don't give rights to prostitutes.'"

Alston's decision came after the prosecution had completed its case and over the strong objections of Deputy Dist. Atty. JoAnne Barton, who said Alston displayed bias against the alleged victim throughout the proceedings, constantly referring in private deliberations to the 30-year-old woman as a "whore" and allowed Zabuski's attorney to ask questions regarding the prostitute's personal life.

"It didn't matter to us that she was a prostitute," said another juror, Mary Ann Clayton. "The consensus among us was that a prostitute could be raped and that this prostitute was a credible witness. We were all frustrated that the judge didn't allow us to decide the case."

In an interview, Alston repeated his belief that the law did not afford prostitutes protection against rape or sodomy if they had agreed to and were paid for a "lesser" sex act. He said the man could force the prostitute to engage in sexual intercourse and sodomy without being criminally liable, as long as he didn't physically abuse her.

"A woman who goes out on the street and makes a whore out of herself opens herself up to anybody," Alston said."She stopes outside the protection of the law. That's a basic and fundamental legal concept...

"If you think the courts ought to get into reforming the contracts of whores, then you ought to advocate them getting into the reforming of contracts of dope dealers and gamblers," he said. "Who in the hell is going to believe a whore on the witness stand, anyway?"

John Kapplan, a criminal law expert and professor at Stanford University Law School, agreed with the prosecutor, saying; "The Legislature has decided very clearly that rape is sexual intercourse without the consent of a woman to sexual intercourse. The judge's decision strikes me as unsupportable. It's wrong."

Sandy Buttitta, head of the sexual crimes unit of the district attorney's office, said she routinely prosecutes cases of rape in which the victims are prostitutes.

"They are difficult cases," she said, "because people in the community hold certain prejudices. But a prostitute can be raped. Just because you agree to one form of sex doesn't necessarily mean you agree to everything."

According to court transcripts, Zabuski picked up the alleged victim, Rhonda DaCosta, on the evening of July 10, 1985. Once in the car, DaCosta testified, she agreed to perform oral copulation for $30.

When Zabuski was not satisfied, she testified, he became "extremely violent" and forced her to engage in sexual intercourse and sodomy. After Zabuski was finished, DaCosta testified, he stole $150.

Zabuski, who spent two years in state prison after being convicted in 1980 of bribery for sexual favors during his job as a South Gate cadet jailer, was charged with one count of rape, sodomy and grand theft.

Zabuski denied that he forced himself on DaCosta. He testified that DaCosta agreed to sexual intercourse after he was unsatisfied. Zabuski, who works as a purchasing agent for a manufracturing firm, also denied taking money.

After Alston granted his own motion, the jury ruled that Zabuski was not guilty of the theft, saying the evidence was weak.

Alston, a former police officer and prosecutor who has been on the bench since 1980, then told jurors: "I have never seen a case like this before. And I would like to apologize for having you spend your time doing what essentially was trying to reform or decide a breach of contract between a whore and trick."

OUR
COMMENTS

CRW00001
Sheriff's Deputy Indicted on Sex Charges
DATE:
August 26, 2004

SOURCE:
Los Angeles Daily News

By By Jason Kandel
Staff Writer

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was indicted Wednesday on federal civil rights violations, alleging he used his authority to fondle a woman and to force three others to have sex with him.

Gabriel Gonzalez, 36, faces life in federal prison and $1.1 million in fines if convicted of the allegations contained in the five-count indictment.

"It's a sad day. This cast a shadow over all of us in law enforcement who are performing our duties with honor dignity and respect," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Gonzalez had been working at the Sheriff's Department about eight years when the complaint against him was filed on Jan. 9, 2003. He has been assigned to home duty since then, and was suspended without pay when the indictment was filed, Whitmore said.

In a statement released by U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Cindy Lozano, she emphasized that the "prosecution of individuals who deprive others of their rights under color of law is a significant priority of the Department of Justice."

Since mid-2001, the department has convicted more than 200 defendants of such violations.

Jason Kandel, (818) 713-3664 jason.kandel@dailynews.com
OUR
COMMENTS

Stop Jailing Women for 'Their Own Good'
DATE:
8/11/1993

SOURCE:
Los Angeles Times

By Edward Tabash, Attorney

The recent arrest and notoriety surrounding the alleged Hollywood Madam brings to tight one of the travesties that still blemishes our criminal-justice system. Whatever one may think of prostitution, an argument can be made that the sale by consenting adults of sex for money, per se, should not be a punishable event in our legal system.

Religious-based arguments asserting the immorality of prostitution should be given no legal credence. In a society that separates church and state, no person should lose her or his freedom because of someone else's religious beliefs. Only those actions that can be demonstrated by empirical evidence, independently of religious dogma, to warrant criminal sanctions should be punished.

The paternalistic argument that women need to be protected from sexual exploitation fails to justify the continued criminalization of prostitution. This argument claims that in order to protect women against such exploitation, society should imprison all women who engage in prostitution. This argument is reducible to a claim that languishing behind bars is a preferable fate for a woman as opposed to allowing her to freely sell her body, if this is what she chooses to do.
A related argument is that prostitution should remain illegal, which means women should still go to jail for engaging in it, because selling sex for money demeans women. Thus the advocates of this argument would prevent women from being degraded by demeaning them even more severely by locking them up in a prison cell. This has about as much logical force as imposing the death penalty on someone for attempting to commit suicide.

The worst form of exploitation suffered by women who exchange sex for money is from pimps. It is most often the pimp, and not the grateful, gratified and happy customer, who abuses the woman. If prostitution were an unpunished act in our legal system, women could generally conduct business on their own, without having to rely on parasitic and abusive pimps.

An appropriately zoned, taxed and health-regulated legal prostitution industry would free women from jail, free many of our precious few police officers to focus on real crime and bring in much needed revenue. IL would also elevate society to a new and desirable plateau of live-and-letlive tolerance.

If anyone still harbors reservations about legalizing prostitution, perhaps the question should be phrased! Should a person be imprisoned for no more than selling or buying sex? Phrasing the question in such a way unveils the true stakes involved in this type of issue. What kind of conduct should land a person behind bars? What kind of conduct, regardless of what one may think of it, should still be left to the individuals involved, without the intervention of the police power of the state? When couched in terms of individual freedom, the notion that prostitution, per se, should no longer be a punishable crime. becomes a palatable and even quite civilized alternative to the present system.

If we, as a society, really care about women, we will not only provide them with equal rights and opportunity, but we will stop turning some of them into criminals merely because they have chosen to exchange sex for money. Women, who, for whatever, reason, choose to engage in prostitution, do not need to be incarcerated for their own good.

The old argument of whether I would want my wife, daughter or sister to become a prostitute has nothing to do with the fact that women who do become prostitutes should not be thrown in jail.

Ideas that are commonplace today were once deemed radical. Today's conventional religions were yesterday's far-out cults. The time has come to legalize prostitution.

Edward Tabash a lawyer in Beverly Hills, has been active for more than 20 years in civil-liberties issues.

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