News D.C. Madam Found Guilty, David Vitter Still at Large
posted by April 16 at 8:21 AMon
Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found guilty by a jury yesterday of running a prostitution service that, as they say, “catered to the Washington elite.” Palfrey broke some idiotic laws and she’s going to sentenced on July 24th and will likely do time. Palfrey’s many clients—a list that included members of the Washington elite like U.S. Sen. David “Diapers” Vitter, a GOP family-values crusader from Louisiana—also broke some idiotic laws but they haven’t been charged with anything, won’t be found guilty of anything, and won’t do time. Vitter won’t even be forced to resign.
Palfrey’s defense lawyers maintained that she wasn’t aware that her employees were engaging in acts of prostitution—sure, Deborah, sure—and pointed to contracts signed by her employees that stated they would be fired if they engaged in any illegal acts. But prosecutors argued that Palfrey had to know that her employees were engaged in illegal acts—illegal acts could be inferred, assumed, taken for granted. Here’s the prosecutor being quoted by CNN:
“When a man agrees to pay $250 for 90 minutes with a woman, what do most men expect in that time?” prosecutor Daniel Butler asked during closing arguments Monday. “In that context, it’s pretty clear. Most men want sex.”
Yes, Mr. Butler, most men want sex. So it’s pretty clear, in the context of a $250-for-90-minutes escort service, that sex is going on. But it’s also clear that Palfrey wasn’t the only person that coulda, woulda, shoulda known that, in that context, it was clear that sex would be going on. It’s pretty clear that Vitter and others knowingly broke the law too—Vitter has admitted to breaking the law—and yet these men haven’t been charged with anything. I don’t think prostitution should be illegal, of course. But if we’re going to throw the book at Palfrey because she had to know just what her clients were buying, then we’re obligated to throw the book at her clients, men who knew damn well what they were buying.
Oh, and this CNN sidebar points out, there are other escort services up and running in Washington D.C., and prosecutors show no signs of shutting the them down or throwing their owners and operators in jail. So this prosecution of Palfrey wasn’t the opening of a front line in a war on prostitution. It is the politically-motivated prosecution of one woman.