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Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Thanks to Dan et al for another opportunity to guestblawg.

As a crim law teacher (and former defense attorney) I have been riveted by the Vincent George case. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is Manhattan's first state trafficking prosecution, against an alleged father-son pimp/trafficker team.  The really interesting thing about the case is that the purported victims, 4 or 5 adult women, are now testifying for the defense, saying that they have not been trafficked or coerced in any way. (See http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pimped-cash-article-1.1360856 -- Should I be concerned to be linking to a Daily News article?  Ah well...)  The women's position is so confusing to many--how could grown women want to be pimped out, emblazoned with tattoos of their "boyfriend's" nickname, coexist with multiple other girlfriends/wives -- that the case has inspired a host of conversations about "alternative lifestyles," women's rights, and prostitution/trafficking.  (See e.g. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/06/04/vincent-george-jr-and-sr-when-is-it-consensual-and-when-is-it-trafficking).  


I am writing a piece about prostituted minors, or commercially sexually exploited youth (watch for Punishing to Protect soon) but have not entered the debate about adult prostitution/sex workers.  There are many thoughtful writers on that topic (see e.g. Michelle Madden Dempsey http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1961654). This case raises so many interesting questions such as : what is coercion--can the prosecutor argue "false consciousness" because these women liked their treatment? It also raises family leave issues: apparently at least one of the women got several years "off" after having a child; and defense strategy issues. Why did the Manhattan DA's office not kick off their trafficking prosecutions with a case involving minors--a  much more clear cut matter of law and fact?

The verdict is due tomorrow so more then..

Posted by Cynthia Godsoe on June 5, 2013 at 09:25 PM | Permalink


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Many thanks!

And fascinating -- the waiver of the jury, the inflammatory colloquy with Professor Raghavan, the absurd analogy. (I guess experts do offer their services for a price, but still.)

I guess it's true that things are often more, um, informal during bench trials . . . .

Posted by: SparkleMotion | Jun 6, 2013 4:49:24 PM

Great question! It turns out closing arguments are today, not the decision, so I'll add more to my post as news reports come out. Interestingly, the Georges waived a jury. But the prosecution did put on an expert in "trauma bonding." The Georges' somewhat outrageous attorney suggested that this paid expert was akin to a sex worker:
"You're being paid, right?" he asked Professor Chitra Raghavan. The lawyer went on: "Much in the same way a young woman might be paid."

Posted by: Cynthia Godsoe | Jun 6, 2013 4:37:11 PM

Great post, Cynthia.

But a question (and perhaps an ignorant one): How did the prosecutor attempt to address the women's testimony? By claiming some form of Stockholm Syndrome? Coercion? Intimidation? I know nothing about any of this stuff, but it seems unlikely that the prosecutor didn't try to tell the jury something. Is that wrong?

Posted by: SparkleMotion | Jun 6, 2013 11:51:17 AM

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