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Archive for February 20th, 2011

You can only be young once. But you can always be immature. –  Dave Barry

I’ve said it many times before; the most common request escort service operators get is “as young as possible,” and because of it most whores tend to lie about their ages.  And since in many countries prostitution is either illegal or legalized (i.e. technically legal but strangled and crippled by arbitrary laws), there is no way for a man to be sure whether the prostitute he hires is of legal age even if she looks as though she is, or underage even if she looks as though she isn’t.  Are there some men who would hire a girl even knowing full well she was underage?  Of course there are, just like there are some men who are willing to receive stolen goods, take bribes, use illegal drugs or otherwise step outside the bounds of legality even though they are otherwise not disposed toward criminality.  But if prostitution were treated as a normal trade only those men who really wanted to break the law would pursue underage whores, and the law could be reasonably sure that anyone caught with an illegally young hooker had done it on purpose.

Two wealthy and prominent men, one in Italy (where prostitution is legalized and restricted) and one in Arizona (where prostitution is criminalized) have recently been accused of consorting with underage prostitutes.  You would probably have to have been lost in the Amazon Basin for the past year not to have heard about Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s girl troubles, but they’ve recently grown worse: He’s been indicted on “child” prostitution charges for allegedly hiring a Moroccan dancer for sex when she was still 17.  Working in his favor:  Both he and the girl deny having had sex at all.  Working against him:  All three members of the tribunal are female.  The following is paraphrased from a February 15th article on Huffington Post :

The 74-year-old Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges he paid a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex, and then used his influence to cover it up.  Berlusconi has called the allegations “groundless” and dismissed the case as a “farce,” accusing prosecutors of seeking to oust him from power.  The trial is set to begin April 6 before a panel of three female judges.  The indictment alleges Berlusconi paid for sex with the girl, who goes by the name Ruby, then used his influence to get her out of police custody when she was detained in connection with an unrelated theft of €3000.  Prosecutors claim Berlusconi called police the night of May 27-28, 2010 because he feared his relationship with the girl would be revealed, while the defense claims that Berlusconi intervened because he believed Ruby was Hosni Mubarak’s niece and was trying to prevent a diplomatic incident.  Both Berlusconi and the now 18-year-old nightclub dancer deny having had sex together.  In an interview on one of Berlusconi’s television stations Ruby said that she told the premier she was a 24-year-old Egyptian and that he gave her €7,000 the evening they met, and later jewelry.

Judge Cristina Di Censo handed down the indictment for immediate trial as prosecutors requested; this is only done in cases of overwhelming evidence and skips a preliminary hearing that alone can take nearly a year.  The child prostitution charge carries a possible prison term of six months to three years, but the abuse of influence charge carries a sentence of four to 12 years and if Berlusconi is sentenced to more than five, he would be barred from ever again holding public office.  The trial will follow the resumption of three other criminal cases involving Berlusconi’s business dealings, creating a legal mess as various parties try to schedule hearings amid Berlusconi’s commitments as head of government.  At the same time, a weakened Berlusconi will face the challenge of keeping coalition partners happy and attempting to repair his international reputation.

Most Italians have been tolerant of Berlusconi’s scandals, but last weekend more than a million women attended a protest against what they called his “denigrating treatment of women.”  And when his estranged wife Veronica Lario announced she was divorcing him in 2009, she cited his involvement with young women and promotion of starlets to lawmakers.  She also issued a plea to his friends to help him, saying “My husband is sick.”  However, Berlusconi has proven adept at riding out other legal charges in the past and may do so again.

Though there might be some kind of hard evidence for the “abuse of influence” charge, I’m not quite sure how the prosecutors intend to prove a prostitution charge when both parties claim not to have even had sex.  Here in the United States, however, grocery magnate Michael C. Gilliland may have a more difficult time of it considering the present climate of hysteria about “sex predators” and “child sex trafficking”; this story is paraphrased from one which appeared in the Arizona Republic on February 13th:

Sunflower Farmers Market founder and CEO Michael C. Gilliland has resigned from the company after being arrested Thursday (February 10th) in Phoenix on suspicion of felony child prostitution.  Phoenix Police Sergeant Steve Martos said Gilliland, 52, went to the hotel expecting to pay for sex with a person who had identified herself as an underage girl he had met online; the arrest was part of a weeklong operation that netted seven other arrests.  According to a company news release Gilliland told Sunflower he is not guilty and that he expects to be exonerated, and the company’s new acting CEO, Chris S. Sherrell, said “Sunflower appreciates the respect that Mr. Gilliland has shown for the company by his [resignation], so that his personal affairs will not affect the company.”

Note that there was no actual underage girl involved here, only an imaginary one, but I’m sure the trafficking fanatics will still claim it as evidence of 300,000 “trafficked children”.  If the charges turn out to be true, Gilliland acted not only criminally but carelessly; after all, it’s not like he couldn’t afford to hire a well-reviewed professional escort.  If prostitution were legal, would he have risked everything to push the age barrier by a few years?  Possibly, but we’ll never know.

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