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June 23, 2013 16:05      

permalink   Sex For Sale 

Last year a lot of high-profile businessmen in Kennebunk, Maine, got their knickers in a twist. Seems that police found their names and phone numbers in a fitness instructor's little black book.

We're not talking pushup, folks, we're talking about paying for sex.

Not with Heidi, the Hollywood Madam, not with Deborah, the DC Madam. With a 29-year-old woman who allegedly swapped money for sex in her dance studio in Kennebunk.

Kennebunk, population 5,000, isn't exactly a hotbed of cultural activity. Maine winters are tough. It snows a lot, so there's not much to do but shovel. Or work off your frustrations at a fitness center.

In the summer, the population of the sleepy little town swells.

It's on the Maine coast so it attracts plenty of summer tourists. It's only a stone's throw from Kennebunkport, an even swankier tourist haven.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara live there.

To Name, or Not to Name

That's the question, folks. As you may have noticed, I have not named the fitness instructor, nor have I posted her picture. I'm for equality. If you post photos of the woman who's paid for sex, why not post pictures of the men who paid her? And name them. According to one source, the client list in her little black book includes lawyers, accountants, a local TV celebrity and the former mayor of another city in Maine.

The Zumba Studio

In September 2011, Kennebunk police got a tip about illicit activity at a Zumba studio. After an investigation, police executed search warrants in February 2012. Police say the fitness instructor allegedly had sex with dozens of men, and even videotaped some of the encounters. Police also arrested her business partner, a 57-year-old insurance salesman and former private investigator.

When the case went public, some johns panicked and hired lawyers. Soliciting a prostitute is a misdemeanor, but those charged must appear in court. And there's the, uh, rub. Kennebunk Police routinely name those charged with crimes, and the nature of the crimes, on their website.

The Little Black Book

Despite public pressure not to, the York County Star signaled its intention to publish the names. How humiliating! I don't know if the men regretting paying for sex, but they sure were sorry they got caught. Lawyers for some of them tried to prevent their names from becoming public.

Folks in Kennebunk were divided on the issue. A local radio show host said half his listeners thought the men's names should be made public. The other half thought they shouldn't, due to the pain this would case their spouses and children.

In September 2013, the fitness instructor and her business partner pleaded not guilty to prostitution-related charges: 106 counts against the woman, 59 counts against her partner.

In October 2013, a Maine judge ruled against impounding the names of the woman's alleged customers, and Kennebunk police began releasing the names in batches of 21.


The case for legalized prostitution

Nevada is the only state in the US where prostitution is legal. In a rural area outside Las Vegas, 500 women work as legal sex workers in 30 brothels.

In a recent survey, 84 percent of them reported they felt safe, because police, employers and co-workers were there to protect them. They work there for a variety of reasons. Some want to supplement income from low-paid service jobs or erotic dancing jobs. Others want to escape the danger of illegal sex work. One wanted to escape an abusive pimp.

Martha Nussbaum, distinguished professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, believes the most urgent issue is poor job opportunities for women. Except for the independently wealthy and the unemployed, all workers use their bodies to make money, one way or another. Stigmatization of prostitutes is often based on class prejudice or stereotypes of race or gender. Nussbaum believes that as long as it does not involve coercion or the use of children, prostitution should be legal. Criminalizing prostitution does not eradicate it, it just drives it underground.

The arguments against legalization

The human body is not a commodity, and prostitutes are just sex machines for men. Even the word "prostitute" is a stigma, and brings dishonor to the sex-worker's family. Legalization may increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and other criminal acts, like drug dealing and gun running. Most religions consider prostitution immoral. Some say legalization would encourage pre-marital, and in some cases, extra-marital sex practices.

Sex trafficking is a huge concern.

Many women and children are brought from poor regions to economically stronger areas against their will to serve as prostitutes.

Sweden's experiment

In 1999, Sweden enacted laws that make it legal to sell sex, but illegal to buy it. Only johns and traffickers are prosecuted. Sweden treats prostitution as a social evil, but views prostitutes as victims of sexual exploitation who should not be victimized again and made into criminals. Men who use women are "sexual predators" and should be treated as such.

According to the Women's Justice Center, Sweden's laws are a success.

In the capital city of Stockholm, the number of women selling sex on the street has dropped by 66 percent, the number of johns by 80 percent.


Two sociologists recently studied data collected by the Chicago Police Department. Women street workers made less than $20,000 per year. The risks were serious, including "a surprisingly high prevalence of police officers demanding sex from prostitutes in return for avoiding arrest." Something they wouldn't have to worry about if prostitution were legal.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer came down hard on "sophisticated prostitution rings" but, in a well-publicized scandal in 2008, he had no trouble using one.

What happened to Heidi and Deborah

and the Zumba fitness instructor?

Heidi, the Hollywood Madam, served 20 months in jail for tax evasion in 1993, but now, twenty years later, she's back in the sex business. In 2013, she bought Dennis Hof's Love Ranch, in Crystal, Nevada.

The DC Madam was far less fortunate, perhaps because her client list included powerful male politicians. In April 2008, Deborah was found guilty of federal racketeering charges in connection with her prostitution business.

A few weeks later, she was found dead, an apparent suicide by hanging. One of her former clients is doing okay though. In 2007, Senator David Vitter, a "family values" Republican from Louisiana, apologized after his name surfaced on the DC Madam list, calling it "a very serious sin." Vitter still serves in the US Senate.

In May 2013, the Kennebunk fitness instructor was sentenced to 10 months in jail and ordered to pay $57,000 in restitution and fines. Her male business partner played nice with authorities and only served 20 days in jail. I'll let you decide if that was fair or not.

So there you have it, folks. Please leave a comment. I'm dying to know. Should prostitution be legalized or not? And why do you think so? NOPD homicide detective Frank Renzi signing off.

Sources: Kennebunk prostitute




Prostitution debate:




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[ Posted by patriciagrasso, June 28, 2013 7:51 ]
     Sweden's policy should be adopted. Prostitution should be legalized to protect the sex worker. Clients' names should be published. Vitner should be strung up by his you-know-what.

[ Posted by admin, June 28, 2013 8:05 ]
     Thanks for the comments! I second your opinions about the names of clients being published ... and also about the Louisiana senator ... his name his Vitter, not Vitner ...

[ Posted by sherry fundin, June 29, 2013 5:52 ]
     Yes, I think it should be legal. The women would be safer and johns would know they are clean. People are going to do it. Using morality as a reason for it to be illegal, well, you cannot police morality as much as some would like to. I think there are a lot worse things we need to worry about.

[ Posted by admin, June 29, 2013 8:10 ]
     Thanks for the comment, Sherry. Your comment about legislating morality is right on target. Everyone thinks their way is the only way. And we have plenty of other things to worry about.

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