Category Archives: Prostitution

Along Came a Spider – Trafficking at an Elite Eastern College

Platycryptus undatus, jumping spider, found in Virginia, Author Kevincollins123 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Lawrence Ray a/k/a Lawrence Grecco and Isabelle Pollok have been charged in a sex trafficking and money laundering scheme involving Sarah Lawrence College students [1][2][3].  Amazingly enough, Ray was the parent of a student at the exclusive institution.  Pollok was a student there at the time.

Apparently, Ray presented himself as an advisor and confidante to his daughter’s classmates, extorting them after having gained their confidence.  Pollok allegedly abetted the scheme.  Both have pleaded not guilty.

A Father Figure

Against school policy, Ray moved into Sarah Lawrence’s townhouse style, on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates during their sophomore year in late 2010.  No one, however, reported him to authorities.  According to the indictment, he then began “therapy” sessions with the roommates during which he assumed the role of a father figurre.

Blackmail, Extortion, and Prostitution

Over the course of a decade, Ray and Pollok are alleged to have manipulated students into providing explicit photos, embarrassing personal information, and false confessions.

Five students were then blackmailed, and pressured to perform manual labor.  At least one is said to have been forced into prostitution, with Ray collecting over $500,000 from her over the course of 4 years.  Physical abuse is, also, alleged. Continue reading

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Time and the Value of Women

Models walk the runway during Miami Fashion Week 2019, Author Fashion photographer James Santiago (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth.  We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines.  Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women.  Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death.  If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time.  The race is rigged.  Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account.  Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries.  We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so.  Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age.  It was never linked to time, in the first place.  Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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Sex and Teenage Boys

Teenage boys, Author Bmdehan (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Bridget Sipera, a teacher at Camden Catholic High School in New Jersey, has been charged with sexually assaulting a male student less than half her age [1].  The two repeatedly had sex over an 18 month period.

Western society tends to view sexual activity among teens as part of the natural process of development.  We bombard teens with sexual images.  Discouraging sex seems repressive to us.

While we may be protective toward our daughters, some of us actually cheer our sons on.  Sex with a teacher is seen as the ultimate fantasy.

But there are serious dangers associated with early sexual activity.  And sex between an adult and child is as damaging to boys as it is to girls.

Risky Behaviors

Teens who engage in sex are likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors in adulthood [2].

They are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and less likely to use condoms. This increases their chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, and having an unwanted pregnancy.

Ten million of the sexually transmitted diseases newly reported each year are acquired by young people between the ages of 15 and 24 [3].  It bears mention that the brain is not fully developed till age 25.

Sexual Addiction

Early exposure to sexual content can, also, give rise to sexual addiction [4A].

Best estimates are that 3% – 6% of American men suffer from sexual addiction [5][6].  However, women can fall prey to sexual addiction, too.

Sexual addiction can destroy relationships, compromise finances, and contribute to criminality.

Typically, sexual addiction is characterized by one or more of the following [4B]:

  • compulsive masturbation;
  • reliance on pornography and/or prostitutes;
  • an endless succession of meaningless sexual encounters;
  • use of fetishes in place of human interaction;
  • voyeurism/exhibitionism; and
  • sexual sadism or masochism.

Addicts persist in these behaviors despite the negative consequences. Continue reading

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Child Sex Trafficking Online

Graphic for child sex trafficking in the United States, Author Ebrittania (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Federal authorities have seized and taken down the website CityXGuide.com and its affiliates for advertising illicit sexual services [1].  CityXGuide.com had taken over from the now defunct 1Backpage.com as the internet’s primary source for such ads.

Minors are identified among the victims of CityXGuide.com.

The charges against Wilhan Martono, the owner and operator of CityXGuide.com and its affiliates (Backpage.co, CAPleasures.com, BodyRubShop.com, and others), include money laundering, facilitating prostitution, and the reckless disregard of sex trafficking. Continue reading

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Domestic Violence in Japan

Neon signs in Kabukicho, a “red light” district in Shinjuko, Tokyo, Author Basile Morin (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Domestic violence is not solely a Western phenomenon.  As of June 2017, there were 72,455 cases reported in Japan [1A].  That set a new record.  However, only 2.2% of the victims of spousal abuse there actually contact police.

A Private Matter

Japanese law does allow courts to issue restraining orders [2].  However, domestic violence is largely viewed as a private matter.

In one survey, 58.2% of the 650 victims injured did not feel their problem warranted police help [1B].  Another 34.3% did not seek police intervention because they believed themselves partly at fault, while 22.3% felt police intervention would be pointless.  Many did not recognize that they had been victimized. Continue reading

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Gomer – A Study in Self-Sabotage

“Head of a Woman with Her Hair Loose” by Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Author Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

The biblical prophet Hosea lived during a dark period in Israel’s history, around the 8th Century BC.  Though prosperous, the Northern Kingdom had turned away from the one true God, instead worshipping idols.

Against this backdrop, God’s puzzling direction to Hosea was that he should marry a prostitute:

Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1: 2).

Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife, Gomer, becomes a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel [1].

Gomer bears Hosea three children, whose names are symbolic of the spiritual deterioration of Israel [2].  But Gomer is repeatedly unfaithful.  Hosea even questions the paternity of the younger children.

Despite that, Hosea is commanded by God to love Gomer (Hosea 3: 1).  God warns Israel of terrible chastisement to come for its sin [3].  Hosea is not though described as punishing Gomer.  Rather, he ransoms her out of slavery.

We can infer that Hosea provides Gomer food and clothing, and treats her tenderly.  Ultimately, Hosea forgives Gomer’s infidelity as God forgives Israel’s.

Motivation

Since Gomer does not speak, we are left to wonder about her motivation.  Here she is, rescued from a life of degradation.  Yet she does not – or cannot – remain faithful.  Did she feel ignored by Hosea?  Did she long for male attention and admiration?  For the excitement of the streets (or the sensuality of pagan worship)?

Self-Sabotage

Why can what we know is wrong sometimes feel so “right”?  For abuse victims, self-sabotage may be part of the answer.

Self-sabotage is the expression of low self-esteem.  Any behavior which undermines our success can fall into this category.  Examples include binge drinking, engaging in unprotected sex, and selecting an alcoholic life partner.  The behavior may be conscious or unconscious.

“Typically, one’s pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one’s personal issues and family history.   Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk… Survivors from violent families may…[be] beaten or injured.   Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments.  Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults [4].”

This is not to suggest that abuse victims are responsible for the abuse inflicted on them.  Nor is it meant to imply that victims want to be re-victimized. Continue reading

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A Modern Plague – Trafficking in a Small Town

Main Street, Smyrna, DE, Author Dough4872 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The I-95 Corridor which links New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC with Miami is a major conduit for human trafficking, a plague that has spread across this country [1A].  According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as many as 100,000 children each year are victims of sex trafficking in the US.

Some 70% of trafficking incidents occur at truck stops.  There, predatory pimps seek out desperate young girls and boys, often runaways [1B].  Most vulnerable are children between the ages of 12 and 14 from broken homes, with low self-esteem and a history of trauma [1C].

Given its nightlife and gambling, Jersey City is considered a trafficking hot spot [1D].

Though situated on the I-95 Corridor, Smyrna – a small town in Delaware founded before the American Revolution – would seem an unlikely location for a human trafficking operation.  However, Smyrna police this week arrested James Walls and Sha Shen at the Kiki Spa for prostitution and human trafficking [2]. Continue reading

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Courage

Motivational poster, Cadiz, Spain, Author Emilio Rodriguez Posada (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.  In this instance, it took the form of a captive 14 y.o. girl, in fear for her life.

The girl was a Michigan runaway, kidnapped in Indiana, and forced into prostitution in California.  Though aware that her kidnappers would monitor calls, she bravely reached out to the non-profit, Crisis Text Line, which then contacted police.

As a result, the San Jose Police Dept. raided Motel 6, locating the girl and two other women held there against their will.  Antoine Williams, Christopher Lyon Johnson, and Curtis Lee Russell were arrested, and charged with kidnapping, pimping, and human trafficking.

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/ is a free service that connects people in crisis with counselors.  Over 100 million messages have been processed to date.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

[1]  People, “How a Text From a 14-Year-Old Girl Busted an Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring” by Christine Pelisek, 5/31/19, https://people.com/crime/text-14-year-old-girl-alleged-sex-ring/ .

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“Lust” by Dr. Dan Allender

New York City “peep show” window display, Author David Shankbone (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Many men and women, molested as children, become sex addicts.  This excerpt is from an article by Dr. Dan Allender dealing with the spiritual aspects of such addiction.  Dr. Allender is the author of “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse” (1990).

“…God made us with desire – desire for intimate relationship with Him and for meaningful service in His world.  The Fall perverted those desires.  The quest for intimacy was replaced by a desire for its quickest counterfeit: illicit sexual pleasure. Our God-given desire for meaningful service was twisted to a lust for power over others.  The longing for impact became a lust for control.

These counterfeits appeal to us because they seek to replace God and His high standards with something that is familiar and undemanding.  Paul says fallen man did not worship God but replaced him with the creature (Rom. 1: 18-23).  The creature does not require repentance or gratitude.  The creature does not demand brokenness or service.  Creature worship only requires denying the true emptiness inside and hiding the shame that arises in turning our back on God and others.

…[Changing this form of lust] not only requires giving up something that has worked, to some extent, to fill our empty hearts, but it also necessitates embracing a God who invites us to experience what we deeply despise – brokenness, poverty, weakness, and dependency…Even if the lust is destructive and life-threatening it may be preferable to a God who calls us to love those who harm us…

[T]wo contemporary Christian routes for dealing with lust …at times make the problem worse.  These two routes – self-denial and self-enhancement…often lead to even greater struggles with lust and addiction…

[The first can result in] self-hatred, shame, and contempt which lead to increased sexual struggles.  After decades of failure many with this view either conclude they are oppressed by demons or doubt their salvation.” Continue reading

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Adornment and the Heart

Poster for film Butterfield 8 starring Elizabeth Taylor, Source http://www.movieposter.com (PD copyright not renewed)

Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3: 3-4).

Body image is a complicated issue for child abuse victims.

Disregard for and “separation” from the body is not uncommon among victims.  This is symptomatic of grief and an attempt to distance oneself from the violation.  It may be coupled with the inability to have sex, an attempt to restore innocence and avoid further violation.

The world’s superficial values regarding beauty can reinforce the poor body image from which abuse victims frequently suffer.  Damaged – in our own eyes at least – we often doubt ourselves to be deserving of love, sometimes living out a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The alternate approach is sexual promiscuity, an attempt to regain sovereignty over one’s body and a desperate plea for love.  Elizabeth Taylor delivered a powerful performance illustrating this approach in the movie Butterfield 8.  A large number of women in the sex trade were, in fact, victimized as children.

God’s love does not require that we somehow reinstate stolen innocence.  His love is freely given to all who will invite Him into their hearts – no adornment necessary.

Originally posted 1/17/14

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