Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Casey: Prostitution charges against 13-year old criminalized victimhood

Rick Casey at the Houston Chronicle describes a fascinating appellate case ("When the victim is the 'criminal,'" June 23):
In a decision fought by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that a 13-year-old girl who had made an offer to an undercover vice cop could not be charged with prostitution.

Why? Because, the high court ruled, a 13-year-old cannot legally consent to sex. And if you can't consent to having sex, you can't consent to selling it.
Makes sense to me. See the rest of Casey's story for the sad details of the case. Bottom line: Should criminal law treat a 13-year old prostitute as a criminal or a victim? The Texas Supreme Court said she's a victim. But how about a 14 or 15 year old prostitute? The high court's logic would allow them to be prosecuted, but what are the costs of ignoring her victim status to focus on criminal prosecution? Indeed, the courts are not alone in rethinking the status of prostitutes. One of the lessons from the Prostitution Diversion Initiative out of Dallas is that even adults in the business often may be categorized as victims as readily as offenders.

The opinion's logic almost bears resemblance to writings over the years from the Law & Economics movement, burnishing the consensual nature of economic exchange to undermine the precepts of criminal law. Because they usually handle civil cases, justices on the Supreme Court of Texas perhaps are more versed in and amenable to Richard Posner-style "Law and Economics" logic, which I've always suspected could unleash a great deal of mischief along these lines if ever applied wholesale toward criminal law and particularly vice crimes.

Interestingly, this case was decided by the SCOT because crimes by juveniles are handled in family court. That takes them out of the jurisdiction of Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals, where it's hard to imagine a majority of judges denuding prosecutorial power so overtly.

See more discussion from the Supreme Court of Texas Blog.


Rev.charlestulia said...

kudos to SCOTX

Anonymous said...

Logically, they would not be able to charge the 15 or 16 year old either, as they cannot legally consent to sexual relations either.

Now we're starting to get into that whole "what truly IS a sex offense?" Personally, I believe that prostitutes should be charged as a sex offender. Why you ask? Unless you are talking about sex trafficking a great number of prostitutes are there for a drug habit. not only are they illegally selling sex, but they are also 'giving' their victims nice things like HIV, HS2, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, etc. All of which are a serious threat to the public. People can say that the guy/gal shouldn't be out looking for it. With that I will agree, however if the 'working' girl continues to sexually offend, then they need to be treated as the threat they are. This is by no means a religious argument, far from it. My argument is a health/safety argument. The reality is the US needs to either truly treat it as an illegal activity and give these 'ladies' the full measure of law, or they need to legalize it and then put standards in place to make it a safer practice.

and please, if you are going to come back with "they are abused women of previous sexual offenses" or " they are trapped due to pimps, etc" keep those excuses to yourselves. The first time they are busted they could do an outcry against their abusers.

Rev.charlestulia said...

Anon 9:00 AM, do you favor charging the johns as well?

Legalize it said...

They're not "giving" their victims anything, 9:00, they're charging cash money for it in consensual transactions that would be safer for everybody if they were legal.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Charles, if it is illegal ABSOLUTELY I believe the John's should also be charged as se offenders and dealt with as the law breaker they are. Too amny times we see a slap on the wrist for that sort of thing.

Legalize it: i think you are missing the point. My argument was either go one way with it or the other but stop playing footsy. The John is paying for the sex, NOT the STD's that come along with it, so they are 'giving' in that respect. If you read my earlier post you see where I said either completely penalize the prostitutes or legalize it. This namby pamby slap onthe wrist stuff for the 'working' girls is pathetic. Ofcourse we've seen some of the reasons WHY our elected officials do not want to completely hammer prostitution as a whole in just the last few years, with so many being busted for purchasing the services of these people. It makes it alot easier staying in office if the John is NOT put on a registry and that JOHN happens to be a Governor for the state of New York for instance.

Adrienne Dunn said...

What was the Harris County DA's office thinking?!?! Charging (and prosecuting) a 13 year old with prostitution is so out of touch with modern child rights. I'd be interested in which other countries prosecute similarily. My bet is the list of countries is not a list we'd be proud to be on.

Anonymous said...

Harris County DA's office does whatever it wants because it can, until someone stops it.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd like to see the John's get hammered harder than the Pros. Why? Because I believe demand fuels supply. If there are not any horny asses out there looking for it, there will not be any girls to sell it.

Anonymous said...

08:42:00 PM

The problem with that is you will never be able to diminish the demand for sex. It's jut not possible without spending absurd amounts of money on law enforcement.

Prostitution is a tricky issue. On the surface it appears to be a consensual transaction (ignoring issues of age of consent). But many of the girls and women who get into prostitution do so at the suggestion or demand of a pimp. Whether it's so the prostitute can finance a drug habit, pay the rent, or buy nice shoes behind all of it somewhere there is almost always a pimp pressuring them into selling their bodies.

Even in cases that don't involve sex trafficking you're still going to run into the issue of coercion and victim-hood. And that's the real problem here, not that people are paying for sex, not that some women are willing to have sex for cash. But that many of those women are forced into it one way or another. Obviously that isn't universally true, but it's true enough to make it a serious problem.

If you really want to tackle the problems associated with prostitution then you have to go after the people who are the real victimizers, the pimps. The Johns, for the most part are at worst enabling victimization, which makes them less than innocent, but they are not the root cause nor should they be the main concern. Even if you do your best to lock them up or shame them or whatever so long as you have pimps out there there will be coerced prostitution because all you can ever hope to do is put small dents in the demand in localized areas.

Rather than arresting prostitutes or Johns it would make more sense to legalize and regulate prostitution to move it out of the black market. And if someone is caught prostituting outside of the regulated market go after the pimp instead. This would also take care of the health concerns surrounding the issue because you could actually have oversight like regular STD screening and enforced use of condoms.

rood said...

This ruling should make child prostitution skyrocket. This is the added layer of insulation the child organizers need to keep in the business. In this case it is clear it is not "all about the children". This ruling will do more harm to children by locking them in to a life of victimization and abuse.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rood, do you imagine lots of 13 year old girls are just dying to enter prostitution but feared the legal consequences? I don't think this will worsen the problem at all. The "organizers," after all, are still legally culpable. Typically 13 year olds don't put themselves out on the street, adults pimp them.

Anonymous said...

Good call. You don't (in most cases) up and decide to whore yourself out at the tender age of 13 without having some wicked serious emotional trauma going on. I'm actually a little angry at whoever brought charges against her, it seems that a call to social services would have been the right thing to do, as opposed to trying for a conviction.

TDCJEX said...

Rood there is not any evidence what so ever that more children will become prostitutes . I doubt very much a 13 year old girl get up one day and decides to be a prostitute . There is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest so .Are you one of those people who believe that if it is not illegal millions of people will do it type . The article unfortunately did not state what happens to those who prostituted her . I hope it is sexual abuse of a child . Hell why cal CPS when you can rack up a easy conviction and move up the career ladder

How does locking this girl who was forced into prostitution by all accounts solve anything .You mentality is the problem you think that incarceration and treating people inhumanely makes them change their ways What is gained by putting a abused child forced into prostitution into a lock up ? That is just sick

Prostitution like drugs should be legal between consenting adults it is not the governments businessman,ad it can then be ruin with regulations to prevent the problems that arise when such vices are made illegal . It is a waste of tax dollars to enforce these mortality laws .

Adrienne , That list would include Iran , Saudi Arabia . Yemen , North Korea among others ,Thar tis not good company .It would appear in a many areas we are more like nations we say are either evil or support terrorism and violate humans rights. It is just “different” when we do it . After all when we violate human rights we are”protecting freedom” You might know about how a prosecutor will twist things and how cops and prosecutors will use a child to get a conviction that they never should have. They really are good at lying to people . It makes me question what went on in this case if the cops and a heartless and brain dead prosecutor pressured the girl into something o convict a teenager who should have never been in that situation to begin with . Thirteen year old girls do not willing go into prostitution that is something well out of the norm .Some one should have realized something is very wrong and the cops should have figured it out as soon as she approached him . Why didn't they go and find the sick pope who are prostituting her when it became clear she is a 13 year old ? Why didn't they bring her to the attention of CPS .I guess a easy conviction and arrest is much more important than the child well being

Now being Hispanic is reason to for cops to harass you and probable cause. hell if your a Hispanic with tattoo your m a gang member . Even tattoos that preceded gangs by centuries .

What about doing something to those who exploit these youths and not using the cops courts and prsin to solve this problem unless it is to lock up those who exploit children sexually .

When ever I hear of prostitution bust I think the cops must not have very much to do in that place

Sam said...

Hmm? By that sort of logic what about 17 year olds? They cannot enter into contracts so they cannot contract to have sex for money.

Anonymous said...

This is just another sign the apocalypse is upon us and the end is near ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why this child was not covered under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act? Clearly a 13 y/o is not responsible for the act all on her own.
Frankly, I'm shocked at some of the anonymous responses. Unfortunately, I don't have nearly enough space to explain the inner workings of a pimp, how they groom children as young as 10 y/o into sex industry work and why these children remain loyal to them.

FYI, 25% of the nation's trafficked minors are right here in Texas. These are children born and sold in the United States! That figure only includes those trafficked for the sex industry and not those brought in for sweatshops, farm work, etc.
Lisa Luna, LBSW
Training Specialist,
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lisa for your information.

Course you liberals on here don't seem to question where the parents of this child are and why the child was not in school.

But reading the article we see she allegedly has been having sexual relations with her 32 year old boyfriend since the age of 11. You probably think that's ok too!

Again, where are the parents?

Just what is is that you liberals want enforced and not enforced? What parents and for what offenses do you want jailed and not jailed? Who does or does not want the 32 year old man sent prison for having sex with an 11 year old? How about whacking off his penis so he can't do it again?

We as a society are morally sick.

Any of you posters on here who live in Harris County should be appalled that a thirteen year old child in your community has gone through a social system whose moral compass is spinning out of control. A 13 year old having sex with a 32 year old boyfriend since the age of 11!

I'm on the side of this child until I learn more. Again, where are the parents of this child and what is the family history here?

Who are the "organizers" here Grits? A community who allows an 11 year old child to live and have sex with a 32 year old man?

We are a sick socitey!

Anonymous said...

If it were 13-yo boy, you can bet he'd be prosecuted and convicted. Here is an example of how young men and boys these days are being treated in the Anglosphere:

The case of this 13-year old shows just how unfortunate it is that, due to feminist jurisprudence, women and girls are often given a free pass in the U.S. judicial system (and elsewhere in the English-speaking world). The majority of women and girls involved in sex crimes are given lighter sentences for their criminal behavior than men -- and it needs to stop. If you don't believe me, go take the couple of weeks it will take to read the posts at False Rape Society, where this bias is well-documented:

The issue of age in regard to consent is only being compounded and made more confusing by the fact that, due to presence of endocrine disruptors (see ) and environmental pollutants, girls are increasingly reaching puberty before age 10.

We need to move beyond the "women-as-victim" model of justice and return to equal protection of the laws and equal justice as guaranteed by the 6th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution.

The 13-year-old girl is a criminal and should be treated as such.