, Newburyport, MA


November 20, 2013

Our view: Pitiful enforcement of 'sex trade' law


NECIR cited the case of six men arrested for seeking sex with minors in a police sting in downtown Boston last October.

Now, remember the penalty for seeking out minors for sex-for-pay is up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. And forget about getting the case continued without a finding.

But, according to NECIR, at least four of the six alleged “johns” have had their charges reduced, dismissed or continued without a finding.

The stiffest penalty assessed against any of the six was $65 in court fees plus a requirement to watch a video on the corrosive effects of the sex trade.

The case is not an isolated one. When NECIR surveyed the state’s 11 district attorney’s offices, not one could cite a single sex buyer who had been fined the supposed “minimum” of $1,000 fine, much less sent to jail, since the law became effective.

In Lawrence, a Salem, N.H., woman charged with running a brothel in a downtown spa allegedly kept a list of 2,000 sex clients. None has been named or charged. That may become an issue when the “madam” goes to trial.

Sen. Montigny, who wrote the bill said he was “chagrined” to hear that sex buyers — especially those seeking minors — were getting off so easily.

“I’m saying to DAs and cops and judges, when a minor gets involved, it is rape,’ he said. “If they thought they were engaging in sex with a minor, severe penalties must be applied.”

Apparently, law enforcement officials have not gotten the message.

A spokesman for the Suffolk County DA said many sex buyers have been shown leniency because they were first-offenders. But he promised the DA will now be more aggressive in pushing for fines.

“The 2012 law has given us a new tool to drive demand down even further and we intend use it,” the spokesman said.

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