King County Took Money From an Anti-Prostitution Organization. Then “Unprecedented” Felony Prosecutions of Sex Buyers Began.

Comments

1
Somebody should totally subpoena Stormy Daniels' client list.
2
Did i say "Melania"? I meant to say "Stormy Daniels".
3
Melania's client list is Putin's closest friends and the big orange buffoon they coerced her into marrying.
4
Really glad to see you're on this story.
5
Ms Brownstone is such a great journalist!!! Please contribute to great journalists.

Ms. Grant is also incredible and a brilliant processor of thoughts. If she were an advocate for any concept it's labor rights.

She often points out the lack of legal identities for those involved in underground economies.

Thank you for such a compelling and honest piece.
6
Move along, folks; nothing to see here but the usual hypocrisy in what passes for 'journalism' in the Leftist Advocacy machine....
The Left thinks it is just nifty when government cooperates with private entities that promote it's agenda.
7
So, just out of curiosity:

How much revenue does The Stranger stand to lose if prosecution of sex buyers increases?

How much revenue does The Stranger stand to gain if various forms of legal liability related to sex work are reduced?
8
This is silly. The Stranger isn’t a public servant. It’s a private organization and whether it’s making money out of specific policy or not is fair game.

Prosecutors are required to be independent and owe loyalty to the public. Should we also allow judges to be paid by special interest group?
9
@6: Did you ever hear the phrase 'two wrongs don't make a right'? In addition, no ideology or party has remained unblemished from their undue influence in our government since its founding.
10
@8
The Stranger pretends to be a newspaper; as such it would have a professional and ethical responsibility to cover news in an unbiased objective manner, not present a distorted narrative that advances it's own partisan and financial interest.

@9
There is no wrong here, except the naked hack advocacy parading as journalism.
Government often works with private concerns to advance the public good.

11
@10 Working with private interest groups and being paid by them are two entirely different things.
Prosecutors have limited resources and have to choose what's the public's best interest.
When private money dictates what to do, we're effectively letting the rich prioritize law enforcement for the rest of us.

Imagine I paid a prosecutor to go after people playing loud music on my street.
I'll be paying only for part of their time, but getting back the entire system with all its power on my side. And that same system may now have less time to go after, say, serial rapists.

Further, imagine I paid them to get at least 50 convictions a year. How often do you think they'll end up accusing the wrong person just to ramp up the numbers?

Now, you might think judges will stop the wrong person from being accused. But keep in mind: most people don't go to trial. The get a plea deal. So my paid prosecutor will have vested interest in accusing whoever they can in the most serious offenses, only to later get them to plea to something minor that still satisfies the 50 convictions a year requirement.

Is that scary enough for you? I know it is for me
12
Some highlights of the CMD sex work legalization bill:
Approved in-call facilities in agreed upon areas and hours of operation.
Each facility will provide security for employees and clients alike.
Prescreened employees will have access to health care, social security, retirement funds and so on.
Clients must show valid ID upon entrance, same as legal pot shops.
Safe sex strictly practiced.
13
@11
Did you even read the article?
The things you are imagining are nothing like what happened.

Why do you oppose a society that no longer tolerates the buying of human beings for sex?
The plight of minors forced into the sex trade is a much more horrific reality than the fantasies you are scaring yourself with.
14
@13 Sorry, you're missing the point.
Let me simplify this for you: let's say the state has enough money to pay for one prosecutor.
This prosecutor can either go after people doing crime A or crime B.
Now, let's say I'm a rich person who cares deeply about B.

Do you think it's okay for me to pay half of that prosecutor's salary to make sure they go after crime B (and ultimately ignore crime A)?
15
@13
Clearly you didn't read the article; you're too busy hyperventilating.

A person willingly renting their time to a person willingly paying for it happens to be the basis for the political economy we find ourselves in.

You know that, you just have an agenda to promote that has nothing to do with the article you're commenting on.

So move along Samantha Jean; what you're seeing is nothing like what's here.
16
Why do you oppose a society that no longer tolerates the buying of human beings for sex?
17
Samantha Jean - The opposition is to that societal shift being promoted and paid for over and above those folks in society who may believe that two consenting adults get to do whatever-the-fuck they want to do with their time together so long as no one else is hurt. Why can't you leave off consensual sex work? Why do you need to legislate other peoples's sex lives?
18
Samantha Jean, you stated, "...a society that no longer tolerates the buying of human beings for sex" and I want to make two observations:
1. In America TOLERANCE is the bedrock of what freedom relies on. A society that no longer tolerates some of its' citizens is no different from Saudi Arabia or Nazi Germany.
2. Buying of human beings is called employment. And millions of Americans choose to buy and sell sex. Sex is an important part of adult life and there's nothing wrong with it.

Then you went on to say, "The plight of minors forced into the sex trade is a much more horrific...[than you realize]." I would like to challenge you to give references to support your statement, because the FBI spends hundreds of thousands of tax dollars every year since 2008 to "rescue" trafficking victims and finds no more than a handful. And the ones they find are typically just underage sex workers, who they arrest and imprison and fine and label a criminal. That, Samantha is what's horrific. That, and the fact that you have no problem with lying to make your argument.
19
To the regular free-market enthuse moralists:
“Government often works with private concerns to advance the public good”
This concept is often perverted and geared towards the industry good regardless of the public.
Privatization of jails led to an industry in need to maintain it’s cliental, hence the “three strikes you’re out” which ensures jailing people for a lifetime.
Gutting down the EPA in the name of private mining and oil drilling is another.
The Oso mud slide was not in the public good.

And please stop playing your pathetic moralistic card. All attempts to eradicate prostitution have failed. Legalization will actually reduce abuse and will make it easier to monitor.

20
@Syd BRINGS IT.
21
Sally Hemings had a pretty sweet deal with Thomas Jefferson, pretty good treatment.
Nice clothes, French tutors, he paid her wages while they were in Paris.
She could have petitioned to remain in Paris and been a free woman but she chose to return to Virginia and slavery.
Slavery was working fine for her.
So, obviously; slavery wasn't all that bad.
Pass a few regulations, tidy things up a bit; we're good to go, right?
For crying out loud, buying of human beings is just called employment, after all.
Slavery; not really that bad at all.
22
19

Of course, you're totally right.
Anything we can't eradicate we should embrace.
How silly of me.

Murder. Regulate it, a few rules to make it more humane, then we're all good.

Homophobia? Wow, really entrenched. No worry. Institutionalize it. Set some rules.

Pedophilia? Those rascals. What are you going to do? Lets provide a clean space, try to match people up (maybe some online reviews?), we can make this work, people, come on!

Racism? Sexual Harassment? Rape?
Please, don't play the morality card- you only sound pathetic.
Legalize. Monitor.

Relax. it's all good.
23
Children forced into prostitution?
That again?
Christ, people; there aren't that many.
Hardly worth wasting the FBI's time on.
They've got Russian Trolls to investigate, after all.

24
Sydney - this is outstanding investigative reporting!
You and Heidi consistently post the articles that are worth reading in the Strangler.
25
"Why do you oppose a society that no longer tolerates the buying of human beings for sex?"

According to court transcripts, the King County Prosecutor's Office authorized dozens of Detectives to make 'appointments.' Multiple Detectives even contributed reviews, some of which are still on the internet and describe in graphic detail how they spent their time.

If we are to take you on your word of intolerance your should be the angriest over this operation.

Good journalism is not about dogma or reinforcing bias. Ms. Brownstone provides an amazing example of great journalism. You can move along without the ad hominem attacks.
26
To the regular free-market enthuse moralist/s part 2:
Legalized, regulated, transparent, agreed-upon sexual transactions don’t need to be equated with murder and all that fancy stuff, unless you’re attempting to hijack the conversation.
In my experience it took some research, yet found some people I interacted with along those lines with no harm done.
What is your assessment based on?
27
Now that Bub has come out and is posting in drag as Samantha, maybe she'll take the next step and find someone to top her irl, so the rest of us won't have to suffer through all these nonconsensual attempts to top us from the bottom.

That will likely involve her having to pay someone, of course...
28
Anyone knows how to do one of them internet petitions to show the judge the public thinks such corruption is unacceptable and breaks our already miserable justice system?
29
It's a red herring to claim this story is about Prostitution.

This is brilliant investigative journalism about corrupt pay-to-play politics within the criminal division of the King County Prosecutor Office.

A prosecutor exercises an almost complete monopoly on state sanctioned violence. If I gave a Policeman $50,000 to target and arrest a group I personally had a problem with there would be justified widespread outrage over police corruption.

A Prosecutor is essentially a policeman on steroids who exercises extra legal power to decide how a law will be interpreted, who is charged, how much they are charged, who is not charged and what the terms of any plea deal will be. Add to that total immunity from defamation and a lock on local media coverage and you have a concentration of power in a single quasi-public official that doesn't just enforce the law, but in many ways IS the law. Despite a well practiced public image as a public servant and technocrat, Dan Satterberg has proven to be a bare knuckle pure politician few judges, public officials or journalists are willing to challenge Ms. Brownstone has shown tremendous courage in writing this story.

If any other government official took money and avoided disclosing it publicly as Val Richey has done here we would call it corruption, but because there are so few legal constraints placed on Prosecutors and his boss Dan Satterberg exercises almost total power within King County, we're forced to depend on their personal integrity to guide their behavior. This article raises serious concerns if that is something we can depend on.

Prosecutor's have argued for years that self accountability was enough to guide their behavior. We have passed legal limits on judges and more recently police officers. If we're serious about turning back the clock on mass incarceration, the next step will be to pass similar constraints on unaccountable Prosecutors and start holding them accountable to the same behavior we currently require of other public officials.
30
Thank you for re-directing attention to what the story is about. Samantha Bee did three shorts on DA's and, in her words, 'they can do whatever the F they want.' It's funny, she introduced the Seattle City Council as a basketball team when they voted down the stadium zoning for the Sonics.

https://twitter.com/FullFrontalSamB/stat…

She started by highlighting Cyrus Vance but also included stats: 90% of DA's are white, 79% are men. WA is one of 13 states where all the DA's are white.

John Pfaff is also highlighted. He wrote "Locked In" where he describes the prosecutor's role as being without virtually any oversight and working inside a black box. Angela Davis is also included and she describes the issue that 96% of all indictments end in plea bargains.

Mr. Satterberg is a reformer, cannabis, LEAD, youth incarcerations, and his support for the Vancouver managed care sights for opium abusers. However, this topic runs counter to his overall perspective, apparent when King County had to ask for permission to speak with local sex workers. The contrast is too obvious.

31
The problem with this article is that it is a cookbook with a thousand recipes. Numerous quotes from "so called dilettante," who have never done any kind of investigations and now, we have an article trying to demean, hundreds of hours, trying to do a good thing. Shame on you, "The Stranger" what happened to "Me Too , Times UP." I could go on "Wiki," and quote hundreds of people to make an article. Not much respect in that. Go out in the field and see actually what goes on instead of third person verbage and quoting shit. This is a bad article by a confused millenial who has not done the legwork.
32
"...confused millenial who has not done the legwork."

You could not be more wrong and unaware. Please research past articles and pay attention to the "Matt Hickey" story. This investigator/journalist took a shred of information and built a case for the prosecutors through her reporting.

In fact, I recall a Tweet she sent out during the initial series of articles describing a Law And Order episode that had stole her story to make an episode. The DA, if I recall, concluded when he said that he could not bring charges for a law that was yet to be written.

Which is similar to this story. There is a reason the prosecutors called it unprecedented. There's a reason that two years later SESTA/FOSTA were written. This story, although long, is only a snippet of a larger story.

Matt Hickey, through fraud, coerced woman. The dozens of detectives referenced above did a very similar thing.

Stop the personal attacks. There are only a few really good local journalists left that aren't slaves to local government and the corporations. You look foolish attacking this one.
33
Private interest groups directly law enforcement to prosecute the cases they desire comes at a large cost to the local tax payer as well.

When cities like Bellevue and Seattle pour limited police resources into reverse sting operations like this they clog our courts with a crime that's legally the equivalent to fishing without a license.

Olympia has attached large fines to this low level lifestyle crime and that money goes directly to law enforcement. This perverse financial incentive to run these pointless reverse john stings makes the police departments richer, but ties up public defenders, judges and the criminal justice system at great financial cost to the tax payer.

It would be an interesting study to see what each dollar of revenue generated for law enforcement costs the Washington tax payers forced to commit scarce resource ensuring these men get a fair trial.

As Upton Sinclair famously said:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

If you wonder why Dan Satterberg, Chief Mylett, Sheriff Urquart and Val Richey continue to pursue a Nordic Model policy that is proven to harm sex workers, there's your answer.
34
Neither John Thune nor Bill Nelson are "California Senators." Thune represents South Dakota. Nelson represents Florida. California's Senators are Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.
35
@16 I sure oppose a society where the armed coercion of the state is put in service of the neurotic obsessions of authoritarian prudes such as yourself.

36
This is basic grant-writing, and happens all the time. More DUI enforcement? A grant. All of the sudden more seatbelt tickets? A grant.
37
I grew up in a part of L.A. where the "Red Light district" existed and there were brothels. My first summer in University, two other students and I did a field study of prostitutes in San Diego. We lived in the same hotel and ate at the same coffee shop and listened to the same women and men describe their life. They were a tribe of sorts and did not bring Johns to the hotel. The sailors and marines who were the most of the clients, I never met. We were permitted to walk with sex workers on the curb and worry about the few who never came back to the "home".

In Seattle I lived in an apartment where a pimp ran his "employees" onto the street. Seeing a 15 year old girl standing on the curb shaking with crack and waiting for the flood of workers from the local factory is the last time I had to see the buying of sex. It soured me on the "street walker" so blindly pictured in movies and TV.

What troubles me in this effort described by the writer is the puritanical attitude of the "grant". I do believe the buying of sex is demeaning to men and being forced to "service" a buyer is criminal. To reduce females to an orgasm service is part of the sexual assault motif which made Me Too so powerful. But to acculturate males to an isolated life, trusting no one and not capable of identifying the emotions they experience is a greater injury.

Making Sex Work legal and regulated, taxed like all businesses and providing benefits to willing workers is not a slide to an uncivilized society but an actual answer to the horror of our dysfunctional culture.
38
If we didn't have prostitution what would stupid people do for a living?
39
"Why do you oppose a society that no longer tolerates the buying of human beings for sex?"

Society no long tolerates the buying of human beings for any purpose. That much is clear. But it still happens, unfortunately. It happens in the textile industry. It happens with fishing. It happens with house cleaning and even child rearing. Horrible -- isn't it? Arguably the most sacred act (raising your kids) yet people not only pay other people to do that, but the people who are doing the actual work are often brought to this country and forced to do it. Here is just one local example: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc…

But does anyone think we should ban babysitting or sewing for money? Are all the people who clean houses simply being manipulated by cleaning pimps? Of course not. There are plenty of people who do that work for the same reason they do any work. They want to make some money, and it is the best option available.

Women like Stormy Daniels (a prostitute) have other options. They could work at McDonald's, or try and get another career. But for whatever reason, they chose porn (one of the few forms of prostitution that is legal and regulated in this country). Speaking of which, would you ban pornography as well?

Anyway, the reason some women (and men) do professional porn is the same reason some engage in other forms of prostitution. The money can be good, and it doesn't require a huge amount of training. 300 bucks an hour (according to the article). That is mighty good money (beats flipping burgers).

To some, this is a horrific career. For others, it beats working at Micky D's. I realize this is hard for you to imagine, but some sex workers actually enjoy their work. Of course they have good days and bad days (like everyone) but they would rather do sex work than, say, put stuff in boxes all day.

The problem with the King County prosecutors is that they shifted their focus. They went from cracking down on slavery (of all types) to arresting *consenting adults* for activities involving sex and money. They did this in part because a private organization paid them to. Then they conflated the two efforts, in an attempt to suggest it was all for the original goal (to end sex-trafficking or underage prostitution). That is the part that has society upset. Or at least some of society.
40
"This is basic grant-writing, and happens all the time. More DUI enforcement? A grant."

True, however DUI enforcement grant money is typically Federal 410 gifts and without contingency targets. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example, are lobbying a MO district to increase their dedicated budget for enforcement after it was cut to 1% of the budget. MADD, to my knowledge, has not gifted monies to prosecutors to increase arrests. MADD is dedicated to education and they lobby the public with volunteers when a perceived change is necessary.

Demand Abolition is pushing a Ponzi Scheme. Stings raise money for LE through arrests. They also raise money for service providers, but there are very few services available of any substance. The real issues of poverty and the provision of basic needs are not even addressed. Typically diversion is the only service provided. Capital is being created for the rescue industry orgs and Law Enforcement but not for the people that need it most. Those people instead are given criminal records, fines, fees associated with diversion programs, and stigma.

King County is aware of the issues associated with stigma and bias. That's why this story is extremely disappointing. To see that a small group of policy setters is working inside a black box to perpetuate the very issues they say they want to address feels like a public policy Ponzi scheme.
41
@37 "I do believe the buying of sex is demeaning to men and being forced to "service" a buyer is criminal. To reduce females to an orgasm service is part of the sexual assault motif which made Me Too so powerful. But to acculturate males to an isolated life, trusting no one and not capable of identifying the emotions they experience is a greater injury."

You are describing trafficking--not prostitution. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are in the same category as sexual trafficking; they are all criminal, where one person forces their will on another, unwilling or coerced person.

Prostitution on the other hand involves people who are choosing to hook up. The sex worker involved sets the rules of engagement and level of compensation for the encounter, with the expectation of being treated with respect and courtesy. The patron compensates them for their time and attention, usually with an expectation that the provider be genuine and compassionate in providing her services.

You see, it's not just about sex, although that is the initial draw. The patron typically spends a lot of time to ensure the person they choose to see is well suited for them, and the provider often spends considerable time verifying the person asking to schedule time. The time spent together is often filled with tenderness and acceptance, and sometimes even love. That is what we all want.

What's wrong with the exchange of money for someone's undivided attention? Why do we pay for counseling or hair styling or babysitting? Because these things are sometimes best when provided by experienced professionals. And that's what sex workers are--experienced professionals. And human beings, just like the people we provide services to. No different from anyone else, except only we are targeted by government prosecutors and treated as if we have done something wrong when we haven't. Quite the opposite. It's time people who don't like us to learn tolerance of different opinions because that is what America is based on. Morals belong in church--not government.
42
The debate about what to do with prostitution and trafficking is so so prickly. From what I can see a lot of statistics are sort lacking breadth and depth in general. A lot more study and time is needed. I think there are two approaches: One to eliminate prostitution and one to make is safer while keeping it alive and well as a market (or increased). Both approaches overlap in the concerned for women's welfare, although they differ greatly in their opinions on what actually works, and what constitutes a healthy community in the context systemic patriarchy, misogyny, the history of women as property, radical feminism and female agency. It's confusing to debate the solution when the goals differ so greatly.

Interesting that the statistics quoted address decriminalization and online platforms, but The Nordic Model is not mentioned at all. Strange omission for such a weedy and complex article.
43
Here's something to consider from Canadian site Feminist Current: http://www.feministcurrent.com/2013/12/0…
44
Here's something to consider: Search for Canadian site Feminist Current: 10 myths about prostitution, trafficking, and the Nordic model.
45
@42

This is not an article about sex work.

It's solid investigative reporting about corruption and pay to play politics within the King County criminal division.

Prosecutor Val Richey has violated the public trust by renting out his power, authority and the of privileges of his office to Texas oil heiress and hard right wing religious fanatic Swanee Hunt without meeting the disclosure requirements that would be expected of any other government official. If any other State official did this we would call it corruption, but based on his "well this is just the way we do things here in my King County" answers provided by his Boss Dan Satterberg in the linked Intercept article it appears this is just business as usual. I cannot imagine a more tone deaf answer from a public official. It's an answer that provides support for the argument that his office is out of touch and to insular to understand the problem with such an arrangement.

Sydney Brownstone does reference the work of organizations like WHO and Amnesty international that do not receive money from hard right wing Texas lobby groups that provides plenty of proof that the Nordic Model leads to a more dangerous and violent work place for sex workers and supports the punitive "incarceration as a solution" celebrated by police and prosecutors in King County who apparently miss all the great outcomes of the "war on drugs," but that is not the primary purpose of this article.

As an aside, I think it's now pretty clear that the Nordic Model is driven more by a large incarceration Infrastructure remaining from the War on Drugs looking to limit further lay offs nad budget cuts along with female competition among women than any hard science, or concern for sex workers.

The fact that Val Richey has turned his personal ambition to run for office into a money making scheme shows just how shallow his morality runs.

For their part, women have historically gussied up state sanctioned violence against their fellow women they feel threaten their sexual value in society as "for the public good" and "to save the children!"

The fact that those they claim to save feel extremely violated by the process should tell you everything you need to know about the "for the children!" failed Nordic Model.
46
Let's look at the Nordic Model. It proposes to decriminalize the sex worker and provide for support services.

Let's look at how the above case was handled. The women were handcuffed, had their assets taken (electronics and money), evicted, left on the street to find their own way home, and did not work with any of the services that were offered. Protected spaces and trusting relationships were not part of the services being offered.

Let's look at the services. Organization for Prostitution Survivors: an organization that began as a fund-raiser to create a memorial for the Green River victims. Original target was to raise $250k and, according to their 2016 tax return, they have that amount of money but the memorial will not be built. Direct grants to domestic individuals is less than 5% of functional expenses. Seattle Against Slavery, another rescue org given attention by the media, spends over 90% of salary and wages. Virtually none of SAS's functional expenses go towards services.

This is the reality of the Nordic Model. It's quasi-law enforcement and lobbying organizations fanning a moral panic to place themselves front and center as white saviors. But, really, there's not much saving happening.
47
The Federal treatment of the State legal cannabis market is a not-so-perfect example of the Nordic Model. The newly formed market is unable to utilize the economic infrastructure for credit card payments or banking systems. This puts stress on the cannabis companies.

The Nordic Model does this and then it targets the customers. The war on drugs was an epic fail unless you are part of the industrial prison complex. The Nordic model is best stated by an old quote (paraphrased): 'That place where militarized humanitarianism meets carceral feminism.'
48
Val Richey said he took a "victim centered approach." LOL, sounds good.

Let's say he took this approach with a domestic violence victim. Took her money, had her evicted, took her electronics, knew that she would incur a early termination lease penalty, outed in the press with distorted charges, put her at-risk as a mother, and authorized detectives for years (in some cases) to make fraudulent contact with her.

That's the level of prevarication that Val Richey assigns as social justice.
49
I compared one of the Information documents filed by the KCPAO in the cases noted above from 2016 with a similar (in charges at least, Promoting Prostitution 2) case filed this week.

In one particular 2016 Information doc the passive voice "prostituted person" was included 66 times. This is the preferred term of Demand Abolition. The Information doc filed this week did not include that term once.

Demand Abolition's mission statement directed and managed this prosecutor who demonstrated a meticulous obsession in following the script provided to him.
50
A judge dismissing this motion sets a new standard that allows prosecution to accept bribes.
This is wrong in so many levels!!!
51
The defendants had valid arguments and cited meaningful legal precedents.
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tn-supreme-co…
“Tennessee, v. Donald L. CULBREATH”

Issue is that there is no consistency across the states how courts deal with conflict of interest. I would be curious to know what arguments Judge Chun used to dismiss this motion.

Hopefully the appellate court and state supreme to courts have a more just view - assuming these defendants take the fight that far.