Day: April 12, 2016

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Prosecutors carry a tremendous amount of power. The prosecutor’s office determines who will be charged with an offense, what offenses the criminal justice system will focus on prosecuting, and often what sentence the accused individuals will receive. But, as Voltaire – and Spiderman – acknowledged: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Therefore, a prosecutor blatantly violating the very law for which he zealously prosecutes others on a daily basis is downright offensive.

The Example of Stuart Dunnings

Stuart Dunnings has been the top prosecutor in Ingam County Michigan for almost 20 years. For the past decade, Dunnings and his office explicitly focused on cracking down on the commercial sex industry by imposing harsher sanctions on both johns and prostitutes. In 2001, the Ingam County prosecutor’s office began impounding johns’ vehicles in conjunction with their arrests and has been charging third offenses as felonies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schusette described Dunnings as an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution.”

Shocking Display of Hypocrisy And Irony

However, beginning in 2015, an investigation by a combined team of the Michigan State Office of the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Ingham County Sherriff’s Office conducted a probe into Michigan’s “human trafficking” (prostitution) ring. During the investigation, they uncovered a shocking display of hypocrisy and irony: Ingam County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings has paid to have sex with prostitutes hundreds of times. It was not just a one-time occurrence. The records suggest that Dunnings used escort websites to find dozens upon dozens of prostitutes and paid for sex hundreds of times amongst three counties from 2010-2015. There is even evidence that his brother, Michigan attorney Steven Dunnings, also engaged in prostitution activities.

On Monday, March 14, 2016, Dunnings was charged with fifteen counts spanning four different courts in three different Michigan counties. The charges include: (1) 10 misdemeanor counts of engaging the services of a prostitute; (2) four misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty by an elected official (by blatantly violating the law that he swore an oath to uphold); and (3) one felony count of pandering.

Pandering Charge Displaying True Colors

The pandering felony count is definitely the most interesting charge against Dunnings. Pandering – commonly known as “pimping” – occurs when an individual induces or persuades a woman to “become” a prostitute. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.455. The facts behind this charge are downright disturbing. Apparently, a domestic violence victim had come to Dunnings for help regarding a custody dispute. Dunnings allegedly coerced this woman into having sex with him and then paid her for it. According to the police, the woman initially did not accept but was worn down and eventually did accept because she felt she had no choice but to accept. For the next couple years, Dunnings continued to pay her about $1200 a month. Apparently, that is how much the top prosecutor thought a domestic violence victim was worth. These disgusting actions were happening while Dunnings was simultaneously putting “criminals” behind bars for much less serious offenses.

Possible Sentencing Could Have Serious Repercussions

The amount of hypocrisy and chutzpah required for such a feat would almost be impressive— if it wasn’t so disgusting. The pandering charge on its own carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. If he is convicted on all charges, Dunnings can face a maximum sentence of 26.5 years in prison. I can only imagine that some of his fellow inmates will have a few strong words for the prosecutor when he shows up at the prison.

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In October 2015, Lamar Odom was found face down, unconscious, and foaming at the mouth. He was transported to a hospital and spent days in a coma caused by a supposed drug overdose. Odom, of Kardashian fame (just kidding, basketball fans), spent days on life support before miraculously recovering. However, the real story here is where he was found: in a Nevada brothel called the “Love Ranch.”

Lamar Odom slipped into a coma after a four-day long prostitution binge at the Love Ranch, one of the best-known brothels in Nevada. The Love Ranch is located approximately 75 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Dennis Hof runs the Love Shack and six other brothels throughout Nevada, which is the only state that has legalized prostitution in the United States.

At the time of his overdose, Odom was staying in a 3,000 square foot suite at the Love Ranch and was soliciting the company of two of the business’s most popular employees, Ryder Cherry and Monica Monroe. The itemized bill from Odom’s stay at the Love Ranch totaled to more than $79,000, with $37,500 to each Cherry and Monroe, and over $1,000 on his bar tab and steaks. This exorbitant amount of money belies the question: how does the legal prostitution business actually work?

How The Business Works: Step-By-Step

Let’s go step-by-step.First, the women are hired through a careful selection process. Hof employs approximately 550 licensed prostitutes across his seven brothels in Nevada. While this seems like a lot of employees, Hof claims that he gets over one thousand applications a month from women who want to work at the prostitution houses.

Each applicant must submit recent photographs and go through a stringent background check. Hof refuses to hire any woman who has been convicted of any drug charges, and will not hire anyone who has been convicted of a felony within five years of the application. Further, each potential prostitute is required to undergo Sexual Transmitted Infection testing before being hired, and required to continue testing on a weekly basis while employed at the brothel.

Diverse Employment And Independent Contractors

The brothels’ staff consists of a diverse collection of women. The prostitutes range in age from 18 to 49 years old. Nearly half of the prostitutes who work at Hof’s brothels have college degrees. In fact, the businesses match the student loan payments for any woman who works there. Hof even hired the first licensed transgender prostitute in Nevada, Madison Montag, who works at the Love Ranch.

Second, at Hof’s businesses, the prostitutes are all independent contractors. The women set their own prices, they choose their own hours, and they can decide what they do with the client. Almost all women give military discounts. Each prostitute lives on the property either permanently or for the duration of her contract, which can range from weeks to months.

While the business keeps 50% of what each prostitute makes, Hof insists that each woman can bring in up to six figures a month. In general, the women work 5 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. There are usually approximately 150 prostitutes working at a time across the seven brothels, and each brothel usually services between 50-100 clients per day.

Third, the clients are “vetted” at the door. They can choose the women either beforehand, by reserving them on the website, or choose the women in person. For example, Lamar Odom was presented with a dozen of the Love Ranch’s most popular prostitutes, who lined up for him to make his choice.

In this case, the women that Odom chose, Cherry and Monroe, were unfortunately the people to find Odom in his unconscious state. Both of the women were subsequently suspended from their employment due to the allegations that they were aware that Odom was using cocaine during his stay at the Love Shack, where drug use is strictly prohibited.

Prostitution Vs Women’s Rights

In this era of women’s rights, it is difficult to determine whether these legal prostitution houses negate the advancements of feminism – or epitomize it. These brothels are businesses staffed by women who have intentionally applied to be licensed prostitutes. On one hand, it appears from the outset that these establishments are the epitome of feminism: women can choose their own lifestyle without shame or taboo. However, the suspension of the women due to Odom’s personal choice to ingest of drugs may indicate that there may still be a long way to go.

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