Florida prosecutors are changing their tune a bit when it comes to the possible human trafficking charges in the Orchid of Asia case involving New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Via South Florida SunSentinel.
[Prosecutors] said Friday that they have no evidence that any human trafficking took place at the Jupiter spa where Kraft is accused of having sex with a prostitute…
Prosecutors have said the trafficking suspicions justified the use of secret cameras at Orchids of Asia, but then they disclosed Friday they had uncovered no evidence of human trafficking there.
“No one is being charged with human trafficking. There is no human trafficking that arises out of this investigation,” Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos said.
It’s a major turn from February when Martin County Sheriff William Snyder claimed spa owner Hua Zhang and manager Lei Wang had ties to a human trafficking organization. His declaration “the monsters are the men” spawned a litany of emotional columns saying the Kraft charges showed human trafficking could no longer be ignored. There were warnings anyone could be a buyer (your neighbor, your P.E. teacher, your business partner to paraphrase U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking co-founder Kevin Malone) and assertions lives were intentionally being destroyed by anyone who looked to pay money for sex.
Reality appears to be a bit different.
Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown has long been skeptical about the human trafficking allegations made by Florida law enforcement and prosecutors writing in February they appeared fantastical and meant for publicity.
Police say the spas were fronts for prostitution, that the workers there were victims of sex trafficking, and that their six-month long investigation was time well spent.
Six months is a long time, however, and it’s hard to reconcile the cops’ timeline with their heroic rhetoric. If the women employed at these businesses were really the victims of “modern slavery,” why did police take six months to get them out of that situation? Why did it require repeat intimate undercover visits and building misdemeanor prostitution charges against all sorts of random men before these “heroes” decided to intervene?
It’s one of many elements that don’t add up with what prosecutors are saying in public and what’s actually happened in the case.
Brown also pointed out police are referring to the prostitutes as “girls” when it appears all of them are of age.
Her theory on why law enforcement makes these accusations is simply because no one really wants to admit there are women who don’t mind pleasuring others for money (emphasis mine).
Police keep calling the women that worked at Orchids of Asia and the other spas that were part of the sting “trafficking victims.” But most have declined to cooperate with police as such.
Martin County Sheriff Snyder told CNN today that police were having trouble getting one woman in custody to “cooperate” in explaining why they would “go and allow themselves to be trafficked.”
“They had the ability, they could’ve walked out into the street and asked for help,” he continued, noting that they often worked long hours and cooked food on a hot-plate instead of leaving for meals. “But they didn’t.”
Instead of taking this as a sign that these women were willingly engaging in this work, police continue to seek ways to explain away this evidence. (And the CNN host asked why they wouldn’t “speak their truth.”) Snyder claims that one woman said she was afraid people might hurt her family if she cooperated.
This type of claim is made regularly by police in these sorts of investigations. That is convenient, considering they’re the only ones allowed to talk to any of the alleged victims and it’s an explanation no one can verify, unlike initial claims from law enforcement—now countered by Synder—that massage parlor workers weren’t allowed to leave.
There is definitely something to be said about law enforcement being the only ones allowed to talk to the alleged victim. More different stories would probably be revealed if sex workers and prostitutes spoke publicly about why they’re in the lifestyle. It could shed light on a more thorough picture no one has bothered to consider: there are women who want to receive money for sex. The reasons they don’t could be fear of public shunning or to protect their children from ridicule.
This isn’t saying prostitution is “moral” or the organizations which encourage women to stop selling their bodies for sex should suddenly pack up their work and go home. It also isn’t saying sex trafficking is a myth dreamed up by the government to increase police power and fill their coffers with money taken from slavers.
Sex trafficking exists, although it probably is not as prevalent as the Lisbeth Salander novels and movies want us to believe. The actual solution could be repealing laws which punish those who engage in sex for profit and let private organizations encourage them to find other jobs and careers.