We’re going to start this post off with one giant collective sigh. It can be a sigh of disappointment, of incredulity or of embarrassment in our federal justice — your choice.
The former CEO of Rentboy.com, Jeffrey Hurant, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn on Wednesday on a charge of promoting prostitution, as well as two other money laundering charges.
Back in August of last year, Hurant and six of his employees were arrested during a sting operation in Manhattan conducted by Homeland Security with help from the NYPD.
Way to keep that homeland safe, guys.
Wednesday’s indictment did not name the six employees, though Reuters reports a spokeswoman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said the criminal complaint against them remains pending.
The case has sparked outrage from gay rights advocates due to the oddly targeted nature of the crackdown. The legal complaint is bizarrely prurient, with prosecutors listing various fetishes from profile pages, including “diapers, sneakers, spanking, watersports, leather,” for no apparent reason other than shock value.
Hurant’s attorney, Michael Tremonte, plans to contest the charges and hopes for “full vindication at trial.”
“The government’s charges against Mr. Hurant are unwarranted. He ran his business openly for nearly 20 years, and it makes no sense to single him out for criminal prosecution,” Tremonte said.
Even the New York Times noted in an op-ed that the site, founded in 1996, “provided sex workers with a safer alternative to street walking or relying on pimps,” adding, “Federal authorities should consider whether continuing to spend time and money turning the website’s operators into felons is worthwhile, while far more serious crimes, including human trafficking and sexual exploitation, go unpunished.”
We hope there’s a rational ending to this developing sideshow, but things aren’t looking great.