Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Zumba: Guess who's not going to jail?

Zumba Madam Alexis Wright joins a long list of madams prosecuted for prostitution--Mayflower Madam Sydney Biddle Barrows, Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey and Soccer Mom Madam Anna Gristina. Unlike those women, however, Wright's clients aren't getting a pass through anonymity. The Chicken Ranch's Edna Milton escaped prosecution, but lost everything while the high-rollers who kept her in business never faced scrutiny.
My ingrained disgust with hypocrisy--particularly regarding issues of sexuality and prostitution--have compelled me to keep up with the ongoing Zumba instructor prostitution case up in Maine. Those of you keeping score at home will recall earlier this summer how Alexis Wright was sentenced to 10 months in jail for accepting money for what she could otherwise legally give away for free. At the time, I predicted that since this obviously dangerous woman was now off the streets, the issue would quickly be forgotten and her many customers would not see any jail time (as is always the case in these high-profile prostitution scandals). You know, I hate being right all the time, but I suppose we all have our cross to bear:

Former Kennebunk High School hockey coach, Don Hill, who was charged with patronizing prostitute Alexis Wright, was acquitted after Justice Roland Cole banned prosecutors from showing jurors Wright’s business ledger — a central piece of evidence in the prosecution's case against Hill and eight other alleged johns.


The court did allow the prosecution to introduce photographs depicting the Hill visiting Wright, but because Wright would not be able to testify that the evidence was in fact her business ledger, Justice Cole deemed the evidence inadmissible in court.
Apparently, the acquittal comes down to the fact that Wright could not be compelled to testify that the business ledger was in fact a business ledger due to that pesky old 5th amendment. Which raises something of a logical conundrum: If the prosecution cannot prove Wright had any clients, how then did they prove she engaged in prostitution? The prosecution contends they will press forward with other cases, but a six-pack of Shiner Bock says they get zero convictions and eventually drop charges against any remaining "alleged" clients.

To add to the injustice, for patronizing a prostitute, Hill faced a single misdemeanor charge where, if convicted, he faced a fine that could amount to as much as $1,000. Think about that for a minute. Wright landed a 10-month jail sentence, and her clients avoid the equivalent of a speeding ticket. How's that justice for you? In his defense, Hill did have an airtight alibi: He thought he was dating Wright. Never mind the fact that Wright was married and Hill gave her cash up front to get naked and spread her legs--that's just how these crazy kids do things these days, right? Yeah, that's Hill picture to the right. Would you let this man coach your son's hockey team? He's either a disingenuous sleaze or the stupidest Y chromosome on the planet. Either way, he deserves his share of public shame.

Again, I'm not an advocate of prostitution. But prostitution laws in this country are as out of whack as drug laws, saddling the prostitutes with the lion's share of the blame (and jail time) whilst the men involved--the victimizers, or at best, enablers--tend to get off unscathed. This ingrained idea that men aren't responsible for their actions and are only led astray by temptresses dates back to Biblical times, but that doesn't make it any less wrongheaded. Something's got to change.

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