Rape = “theft of services”

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 · 28 Comments »

I saw this in the news a few days ago, but didn’t post on it because it upset me too much. It upset me so much, in fact, that I had to spend two hours googling dolphin pictures in order to calm down.

But Shakespeare’s Sister is a better woman than I, and so she’s posted on the story of the prostitute who was gang-raped at gunpoint, and of the evil judge who reduced the charges to “theft of services”:

So there’s this judge. Her name—her name—is Teresa Carr Deni, and she’s a municipal judge in the Philadelphia Municipal Court. And recently, a defendant in her courtroom was accused of raping a prostitute at gunpoint—and inviting three of his friends to rape her, too. It might even have been more, except that when a fifth man arrived and was offered a turn, he asked why the girl was crying and declined to rape her while she wept and his friend pointed a gun at her, instead deciding to help her get dressed and leave.

The thing is, Judge Deni dropped all sex and assault charges at alleged gun-wielding gang-rapist Dominique Gindraw’s preliminary hearing. She decided he should be held on armed robbery for “theft of services.” Not only can prostitutes not be raped, according to Judge Deni, but calling what happened to the 20-year-old victim rape “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Folks, you know my theory. Pretty soon they’ll start purging the dictionaries. Take the word “rape” right out.

One thing Shakes didn’t mention, but I will: Jill Porter, the Philly columnist who reported this business, isn’t exactly a paragon of enlightenment herself. In her original column she wrote:

Certainly the victims don’t inspire much sympathy.

Why waste taxpayers’ money for what some people consider an occupational hazard?

There are enough sympathetic victims without wasting time on prostitutes who ask for trouble, right?

But crimes are prosecuted not out of sympathy for victims, but to maintain the rule of law in a civilized society, to punish a criminal and prevent further crime.

Has feminism not made it to Pennyslvania yet? What the hell is going on up there? It’s bad enough that Judge Asswipe thinks prostitutes are sexual vending machines; now we’ve got the Voice of Conscience saying, why yes, prostitutes are unsympathic sluts who are just asking for trouble, but still, we need to hold the line on rape prosecutions in order to maintain the rule of law for the greater good.

Are people in Philadelphia walking around in bustle gowns and tailcoats and shit? Is it like 1889 up there? Horse-drawn carriages? Little boys in short pants? Is Dave Lennox standing on the corner in pair of overalls?

Dolphin pictures. Dolphin pictures.

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28 Responses to “Rape = “theft of services””

  1. Melissa McEwan says:

    didn’t post on it because it upset me too much

    It was like pulling out my own teeth to get my fat arse motivated to write about over here, too.

    It just made me feel so…despondent.

    Meh.

  2. Tabby Lavalamp says:

    What the…? I’ve got little to say on this that isn’t sheer, unadulterated anger, but I will try to bite my tongue.
    I’m Canadian, so I don’t fully understand how your system works, but is this an elected or appointed judge, and is there any way to get her off the bench?
    Carr Deni needs to spend some quality time away from the bench getting to know prostitutes as human beings. Could a judge from a higher court force her to do this? She reeeeallllly needs to discover that these are human beings she’s dismissing.
    Porter could use this quality time too, meeting the prostitutes and finding out just how they ended up on the street.

  3. Kiuku says:

    I guess it’s not really murder if you kill a soldier then. I guess you can also go to a strippers house, take off her clothes and all you have to do is pay a penalty to her pimp..I mean the club owner.

  4. sam says:

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to repost what I wrote on Roy’s Feministe thread back in June that got me called “vile and twisted” by a poster there.

    When poster beanphed’s comment, “With legal sex work, rape becomes theft” was widely pooh poohed by pro-prostitution posters, I backed their statement up with the following:

    With legal sex work, rape becomes theft.

    Kristen wrote, “Rape is not, and will not ever be the theft of sexual services”

    Oh how I wish to all the heavens this weren’t true. But it is true. What would it take for me to convince you that some women’s rapes are already not being called rapes but “uncompensated sexual labor”?

    When the OC pool table rapists drugged and filmed themselves raping an underaged girl, they claimed she said she wanted to be a porn star. Even though no one I heard of brought up the question of if they offered to pay her for ’sex work’, the clear implication was that it wasn’t a rape but merely a case of uncompensated sex work.

    Then there’s Kim Meston, a young woman from Tibet whose parents were lied to by an American man who raped her repeatedly and forced her into domestic slavery. Seems like a pretty clear-cut case of rape, right?

    Wrong. Pro-sex workers rights ‘progressive’ writer Yasmir Nair wrote an article for Clamor Magazine in which she called Meston’s rape uncompensated sex work, “Meston’s story reveals the kinds of labor, sexual and commercial, that may be extracted from family members under economic stress.”

    The woman was RAPED. Imagine the uproar if people suddenly started calling murder “suicide without consent”.

    You know how every feminist knows victims of rape are least likely of all crime victims to speak about their sexual victimization? According to pro-sex work Nair, when it comes to sex work this well-known truth reverses and women like Kim Meston who say they were raped are told they’re lying about being raped because they’re ashamed to admit they were really prostitutes:

    “It’s easier for sex workers to claim being kidnapped and forced into sex rather than admit to looking for sex work”

    The woman was RAPED. And Yasmin Nair/Clamor called her a liar who probably wanted the “sex labor transaction” but was ashamed to admit it.

    http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/09/76044.html

    With legal sex work, rape becomes theft.

    **

    There are other examples, like the Kaufmans from Kansas who ran the Kaufman House Residential Treatment Center for the mentally ill where for 20 years they forced residents to masturbate, fondle each other and shave each other’s genitals while Arlan Kaufman made videotapes. They were convicted in 2005 of 30 charges including health care fraud, Medicare fraud, forced labor and holding clients in involuntary servitude. Despite videotaped evidence, no charges of rape or sexual assault on mentally ill patients were brought, only labor infractions.

    We women think we’ve come so far. We think we’re mostly humans, albeit low status ones, but we have never really escaped being men’s property. Not yet. When prostitution is referred to as sex work it reaffirms women’s property status and the common belief that money washes clean men’s responsibility to not sexually abuse women.

  5. therealUK says:

    Sam, I’ll just take this opportunity to say thank you for the time and effort you put into your comments here and across the blogosphere.

    I can’t even bear to read some of the sites you post on, never mind engage them in comments.

    But I – ans I’m sure plenty of others do appreciate reading your stuff, always really good.

  6. orlando says:

    Way back in 1975 Anne Summers wrote (I quote from memory here, so it might not be quite precise), to describe society’s attitude to rape: “Rape is the worst of all crimes, and it never actually happens.”

  7. apostate says:

    Here is another Philadelphia story: A man raped at least 30 women he met on match.com (probably more) and was brought to trial only to be acquitted by a woman-majority jury.

  8. Mme. Termagant says:

    What in Sam Hill is happening in Pennsylvania? From the Dover School board to the bending over backwards justice system of Philly to accommodate rapists. Congrats, kids, you’re really making a name for yourselves over there. Brotherly Love indeed.

  9. Infidel says:

    Couldn’t the prostitute in question, in addition to charging her “employer” with theft of services, also charge him with “harrassment”?

  10. Infidel says:

    Apostate(as per#7):
    “…only to be acquitted…” TWICE! But then,

    Posted on Sat, Oct. 13, 2007
    Marsalis gets 10 to 20 years in date-rape cases
    By Dwight Ott
    Inquirer Staff Writer
    Before a courtroom filled with women who had accused of him of plying them with drink and deceit, and then raping them, Jeffrey Marsalis was sentenced yesterday to the maximum, and given a lifetime label intended to warn potential victims.

    Yeah! I could think of other punishments and 10 to 20 just seems stupid- if it could be 20 that should be it, and even that doesn’t seem enough.

  11. Ann Bartow says:

    Argh. So many pieces of broken glass here it is hard to know where to start, but the fact that the judge who did this is female is striking me as one of the most wounding shards.

    Someone needs to help the victim bring a civil suit, optimally someone at a big firm with lots of resources.

  12. Christina says:

    Didn’t see a way to e-mail you.

    Check this out. Contender for evo-psych bullshit snake?

    http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20071008&s=pinker100807&c=2

  13. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Dear God, that man is stupid. His career is a testament to the mass ignorance of our culture.

    BTW, my email address is at the bottom of the About Dr. Socks page (upper left corner).

  14. Kathy Hogan says:

    Great story, highly inflammatory and outrageous, but it’s not true, and Judge Teresa Deni is not an “evil judge.”

    We all tend to fall for these stories, and when it’s as bad as what you’ve read about Judge Deni, of course your response is to be outraged.

    The press got manipulated into printing bullshit lies by the political opponents of Judge Deni, coincidentally, right before the election.

    Here is a short selection of just a few of the lies:

    Lie: Judge Deni released the defendant.

    Truth: She did NOT release the defendant. He is being held on armed robbery, a chrge presented by the prosecutor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5-10 years.

    Lie: Judge Deni reduced the charges against the defendant to ‘theft of services.’

    Truth: Huh? The charge is armed robbery. ‘Theft of services’ (?) was not even charged. Saying Judge Deni reduced the defendant’s charges to ‘theft of services’ makes her look ridiculous, doesn’t it? (Now, who would want to give you that impression, right before the election?)

    Lie: The judge doesn’t think prostitutes can be raped, and she doesn’t respect them as people.

    Truth: This is a scurrilous lie. Judge Deni has been a lifelong advocate for the equal rights of women, and respect for the civil rights of everyone, including prostitutes.

    Judge Deni has personally extended her court’s service in offering prostitutes who have appeared in her court with opportunities for job training, drug rehabilitation, and other assistance. Judge Deni knows full well that prostitutes can be raped, and these nasty accusations are completely without merit.

    Judge Teresa Deni is being targeted with a political smear campaign right before the election.

    There are other many other lies and misrepresentations suddenly popping up about Judge Deni, and there is no truth to any of them.

    Please don’t believe everything you read in the paper, or on the blogs either!

    I base my opinion on first hand knowledge of the actual facts, and on knowing Judge Deni, both personally and professionally, for more than 30 years.

    Judge Deni is an excellent judge who is consistently meticulous in applying the rule of law to ALL of the facts.

    She did not do what she is being accused of doing.

    Don’t believe the lies.

  15. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Kathy, why did Judge Deni dismiss the rape and assault charges? Why did she tell the reporter that the prostitute’s case “minimizes cases of true rape”? Why did she say of the prostitute, “She consented and she didn’t get paid . . . I thought it was a robbery.”?

  16. Kiuku says:

    Truth: She did NOT release the defendant. He is being held on armed robbery, a chrge presented by the prosecutor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5-10 years.

    Exactly, “armed robbery”. Why is the charge armed robbery and not rape?

    Ghost of Violet was there a rape charge that the judge dismissed? It seems Kathy is saying that the prosecution never brought rape/assault charges.

  17. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Ghost of Violet was there a rape charge that the judge dismissed? It seems Kathy is saying that the prosecution never brought rape/assault charges.

    According to what I’ve read, the charges were brought but Judge Deni dismissed them.

    This follow up from Jill Porter is interesting:

    Move afoot to unseat judge in rape ruling

  18. Kiuku says:

    Seems like Deni is the one “asking for trouble” now. Good Riddence.

  19. Infidel says:

    So common in Cambodia there’s a word for it Bauk, or “plus”. Fucking mankind.

  20. Kathy Hogan says:

    (The following comment came by email, so I’m posting it to the thread for Kathy. — V.S.)

    To Ghost of Violet and Kiuku:

    There is more to this than meets the eye. There is an election around the corner, and political opponents pounced on an opportunity to take a difficult decision in a complex case, twist what really happened, and exploit it to the papers for political purposes. No one who is criticizing Judge Deni’s ruling was privy to all of the particular facts and circumstances of this case, making it easy to make a caricature out of the ruling and out of Judge Deni. What you heard happened is appalling, but what you heard was the carefully “spun” version of what really happened.

    For instance, Judge Deni is being widely accused of reducing the charge to ‘theft of services,’ which was specifically made up to make her look callous and ridiculous, and it is a complete fabrication, done on purpose, there WAS no ‘theft of services’ charge! The armed robbery charge carries a heavier mandatory jail time then lesser charges would have carried (some charges have more potential jail time, but are not mandatory). Obviously, I can’t go into an entire explanation of legalities, which are often Byzantine, but my point is that there are reasons, many reasons, that go into any particular judicial ruling, and there are numerous considerations that lead to a particular outcome.

    Political operatives do this kind of thing right before elections all the time, and it’s a huge favorite local past time in Philly. If you don’t know Philly politics, what goes on in Philly at election time is a whole other animal. How the game goes is to wait until a month before an election, take the best opportunity you can find, preferably something that is complex and cannot be explained in a sound bite, then twist it, feed it to the press, and fan the flames of public opposition in the hopes of effecting election results.

    It’s a tried and true formula, and you can set your watch to it. I am not Judge Deni’s spokesperson or representative, these are my words and ideas, so please don’t ascribe anything I am saying to her.

    The things you are responding to sound alarming and unfair, but what’s alarming and unfair is how this is such an orchestrated political trick, and Judge Deni is prohibited by the ethics rules to respond further to it.

    This columnist Jill Porter, she could be an innocent pawn in all this (the press often oblivious, it’s amazing how often they get played and don’t know it — remember how the entire media was played so well, in getting us into the war in Iraq?), I have no idea, but she is certainly being an effective tool of the political oppostition in the way she is writing her column.

    She insinuates in yerterday’s article that Judge Deni is somehow trying to hide things from the public, that she’s making up her own rules, that she is being punitive by PRIVATELY reporting the poor little prosecutor, who knows he is not supposed to initiate a discussion of a pending judicial matter to the press. Again, yesterday, Jill Porter prints that Judge Deni submitted the confidential report, something that she is required to do as an officer of the court. What happens?

    It gets discussed in public, again, in Porter’s column, a violation of a thing that is supposed to be kept confidential, and not only that, it gets twisted to sound like Judge Deni is trying to hide things! Get it? You follow the rules of professional conduct and ethics, your opposition doesn’t, and then they spin it to make you look like you’re the bad guy, and you still follow the rules, which means that you can’t issue a public response about it.

    It’s too complicated to explain further, which is exactly why the political operatives picked this particular issue and are playing it the way they are playing it — they get to portray Judge Deni in an unfair and untrue light right before the election, and Judge Deni is restricted by the professional rules of ethics from saying more about it. When she sticks to the rules, even that fact is used to smear her name further. Neat trick, eh? What I have just explained is not unusual, in fact it’s routine, and the only people who are surprised to learn such things happen, are the people who are not involved in the campaign and election culture.

    Having said all this, and there is more that I regret I cannot go into, you may still believe that Judge Deni did what you read. She didn’t. Do you think bloggers are going to take the time to look into what really happened? I doubt it. And when one side is restricted in responding, it’s even more impossible to get the truth out.

    Who the hell am I? Is this Hogan character believeable? I bet not 3 people would believe that Deni did nothing wrong, based on my saying so, because that would mean they would have to admit they were fooled, and nobody likes to admit that, especially when they thought what they were doing was being heroic in their outrage, in defense of an outcast, sticking up for the little guy, and railing against injustice by the powerful. I know, it’s an unresistable story, even if it’s not true.

    Who the hell wants to do the heavy lifting to ferret out the truth, that a judge actually did the right thing, when it’s so much easier to jump on the bandwagon and smear her reputation?

    If I heard what you heard, I’d have the same response you had. Maybe I haven’t changed your mind, but maybe you’ll at least consider the possibility that you were played with deceptions for purely political purposes.

    You want to doubt me? Fine, I’ve been a rock solid activist and advocate in the women’s community for 35 years, but you’ll either recognize me for the real thing, or you won’t. I know you think you’re doing the right thing. It’s really too bad that truth doesn’t come packaged a neat little sound bite.

    Best wishes, Kathy Hogan

  21. Kiuku says:

    Trust me I understand news bias, and sometimes ignorance. I know how it works.

    Meanwhile, I extracted only a few bits of what I found to be useful information in your post. While you haven’t said it, you seem to want to say that the prosecution never brought rape charges. Our main beef, if you will, with Judge Deni, and any judge that would drop rape charges and pursue armed burglary -because- the woman is a prostitue, is that she did just that. And you didn’t answer the question, but posted your own..I don’t know..appeal..without actually stating any new facts.

    If you the only thing you have a problem with is the phrase “reduced to theft of services” instead of “armed burglary” then we don’t really have a problem do we?

  22. Rebecca says:

    This concept that it is “theft of services” when men rape prostituted women, is a cruelly honest way that society see prostitution. Prostituted women and girls are rape, battered and mentally on a daily basis, but it is made invisible. It often has to be a near-death experience to get near the courts. Then it is usually dismiss as a non-crime. Prostituted women have no rights to personal safety. All too often rape is just seen as an “accident” of the job.
    When I was a prostitute, sexual and mental violence was the usual. I was strangled, beaten, anally raped, had group rape and other acts I choose to forget. I never thought to report these acts, for I felt I would be judged and disbelieved. Even when I was close to death, I was silent.
    Recently. in England, there was a documentary about the murders of prostitutes in an English city. At one point, a policeman made the claim that the most frightening about the murders was not done a single maniac, but more likely to be several normal men. In his opinion, the reason they murdered the prostitued women was because they were not going to pay her. Murder because they were cheapscapes. That sure how little prostituted women matter to our society.

  23. Kiuku says:

    That sure how little prostituted women matter to our society men. How little women matter in total, really, as human beings. Your worth is directly related to the perceived worth of your vagina.

  24. Laurelin says:

    There are no words I can think of for this shit. ‘Theft of services?’

    I’ve not been able to think of anything to say about this, other than inarticulate anger (excuse my crappy syntax).

    Still can’t articulate. The law consistently fails the most vulnerable women, and still judges them by their sexual behaviour. Fuck the patriarchy.

  25. simply wondered says:

    i note the italian police were at pains to stress that the young english woman recently murdered there was not into any of that naughty group/rough sex stuff. now i’m sure that helps some of the horrific images that must be swimming round the heads of her family, but beyond that we’re immediately back into ‘theft of services’ territory. and how likely is it they would have made such a statement if it had been a male victim. the law clearly does discriminate between the sexes and anyone who says otherwise is deluding themselves.
    it seeps everywhere…

  26. Infidel says:

    A guy walks into a liquor store and clocks the owner on the head and makes off with a shitload of liquor, the guy deserved to have that liquor stolen because he was selling liquor in the first place, plus there was no assault since the perpetrator didn’t kill the owner and the owner was selling more liquor that same night.

  27. Infidel says:

    …to minors.

  28. simply wondered says:

    having checked, this story couldn’t happen in the UK, (albeit only for technical reasons) as there is no offence of ‘theft of services’ (such things generally dealt with under fraud – which even the most off-beam judge couldn’t come up with. any supposed contract between prostitute and client (rapist rapee – pick at will) is not enforceable in court anyway. a while ago a man was charged with rape when he agreed to pay a woman for sex and then absconded without paying. he was tried under a clause in the old (pre 2003 sexual offences act) law about ‘deception as to the nature and purpose of the act’ – it was ruled that deception referred to what was going to happen (ie when someone pretends there will be no sex) rather than any circumstances surrounding it.
    recently it seems that even the greybeards involved in law-making were a bit shocked at the hopeless conviction rate for rape (and yes that’s only a part of the problem -see many of v’s eductaional posts here) which had declined from 32% of reported cases to 5.6% between 1977 and 2002. (and factor in the low figures on rapes occurring and being reported for full horror.) thus the expanded and codified sexual offences act 2003. of course if they think the problem will be solved in court, they are shuffling deckchairs on the titanic. but along with some initiatives to redress the awful treatment of rape complainants (‘complainants’ makes it sound like a bit of a cold…) it might be a start. i wonder if that’s anything at all to do with a couple of women having shuffled through into positions of some prominence in the system?