If I took the news here seriously, I’d probably be hiding under my bed right now. I would be filled with terror knowing that hordes of sex-crazed Superbowl attendees are currently descending on our fair state with an unquenchable desire to have sex with prostitutes and even children. Think I’m joking?
Fox News reports that strip clubs and homeland security have teamed up “to crack down on sex traffickers as the Super Bowl rolls into town.” Other suspect sources report sex traffickers are coming in “droves.” Even the State Bar has jumped on the bandwagon with a Superbowl sex-trafficking CLE, and there’s an art exhibit about sex trafficking too, just in time for the game. Apparently nobody reads snopes anymore. Even articles that note things like “firm evidence of a correlation between the Super Bowl and an uptick in prostitution is lacking” have sensational titles like “Increase in sex trafficking expected during Super Bowl, golf tournaments.”
Adrian recently spoke with a cop who was devastated because he was going to have to miss all the Superbowl action due to a medical procedure he had scheduled. Police and politicians have been drooling about this for a while, and Phoenix even recently considered last-minute changes to stick Superbowl Johns with harsher punishments. That cop Adrian met apparently sounded the way I sound when I have to miss a hunt. It is really just a hunt for them, after all, with the cops playing predators and supposed sex predators playing the prey. The way they’re catching people these days, it’s clearly a baited hunt.
Arizona law enforcement has been going hog wild for a nifty new sort of sting that was in the news a bit last year. What cops do is post ads online claiming to be escorts of legal age. When they get a bite, they sneak in information about how they’re actually younger. I’ve yet to encounter a defendant who even remotely seemed to believe it; they think it’s a negotiating technique to up the price, or role play, or just vanity. When the unsuspecting men arrive at the hotel room, their suspicions are confirmed. The cop playing a minor never looks anything like a minor. Even from the back in the grainiest of the videos, it’s obvious. It’s far worse in person, I hear. I’ve heard from no shortage of defendants who try to leave, mention seeing a clear c-section scar or other signs the girl is not likely a minor, or are generally quite aware something is off. Every case I’ve seen probably should’ve been a trial case. The undercover cops come off so sleazy and desperate that the draw of an entrapment defense is hard to ignore, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s ridiculous, and it should be beneath any self respecting officer to participate. They end up terrible cases for the state, but they’re also easy guilty pleas. The easiest, I’d say. Why?
Enter a broad statute and draconian mandatory sentencing, darlings of crooked cops and lazy prosecutors everywhere. The law prohibits prostitution not just with a minor, but “with a minor who the person knows or should have known is fifteen, sixteen or seventeen years of age.” It also specifically says “[i]t is not a defense to a prosecution…that the other person is a peace officer posing as a minor.” A bald, fifty-year-old detective with a handlebar mustache and a beer gut, dressed like Daisy Duke? Why not? A cardboard cutout of Betty White? There’s nothing to stop them from trying. They’ll say the text messages from a cop were clear, and the poor defendant should have known he/she/it was a minor. Er, a busted old cop or an inanimate object pretending to be one. And all but the craziest defendants are going to plead no matter how awful the case because the law provides for a mandatory 7 to 21 years in prison, with a presumptive of 10.5 years. Would you fight it with that sort of time on the line?
I’ve spoken with at least a dozen lawyers about these cases, including the head of sex crimes for the biggest public defense organization in the state, and no one has ever even met a defendant who realistically thought about taking one of these to trial. The pleas these days are always the same; a felony on your record with fifteen days of jail or a chance to earn a misdemeanor with ninety days of jail. The legislation making coercion into those offers so easy was lauded by prosecutors, of course, though mention of enhanced penalties was buried in the news release. What prosecutor wouldn’t love it? What cop wouldn’t? They have seemingly terrible cases that should offend the public and stir up support, but embarrassing crimes that ensure all but a brazen few never come forward to tell the public what’s really happening, harsh mandatory prison sentences, and far-better-than-trial pleas with quick deadlines that guarantee everyone pleads guilty and does it fast. No interviews, no serious challenges, and piles and piles of convictions.
Nothing says fun-filled sports weekend like a bunch of sociopathic authority figures itching to ruin the lives of people who never intended to commit the crime to which they’ll invariably plead, right? If the powers that be in this state wanted to teach the rest of the country a lesson for thinking Arizona maybe wasn’t the cruel, backwards place it seems to be based on our government’s perpetual quest to out-stupid the rest of the country, mission accomplished. If the rest of the country is lucky, they’ll learn to not acknowledge us anymore. They’ll certainly not want to visit again, and I can’t blame them.
Filed under: Sex Crimes · Tags: 15, 16, 17, backpage, casual, craigslist, encounters, escort, hooker, minor, officer, Police, prostitution, redbook, reverse, sex, sting, trafficking, underage, undercover