Column: Rotting Fruit

Image by Maarten Van Damme (2009); Creative Commons License

Image by Maarten Van Damme (2009); Creative Commons License

After a moral panic ripens into its fullest development, it quickly begins to rot and ferment, producing noxious spirits which seep into the body politic and cause all manner of aberrations for years; sometimes the aftereffects can last for decades.  The odious fruit of “sex trafficking” hysteria is no exception; it reached its peak last year, saturating the entire culture with its noisome effluvia, and is now entering the stage where it is beginning to break down from within.  Up to now, most of the people harmed by the hysteria have been sex workers, our clients, our associates and the families of all three groups; the stench of a fully-ripened panic, however, cannot be so easily contained, and the evil plant governments were only too happy to cultivate is now beginning to stain their own.  Perhaps you saw this article a few days ago?

A woman who claims she was made to have sex with the Duke of York has said she was paid £10,000 by her then-employer Jeffrey Epstein, and alleges that Prince Andrew knew she was just 17 years old at the time…Buckingham Palace has issued an unprecedented denial in relation to the new claims, denying that the Duke had “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with…Virginia Roberts….[who] claims that between 1999 and 2002 she “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor” in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by her then-employer and friend of Prince Andrew Jeffrey Epstein.  While the age of consent is 16 in the UK, it was and remains 18 in Florida, where the court papers were filed.  Now a convicted sex offender, Epstein used hidden cameras to picture underage girls in his properties…It has not been alleged that the Duke knew Epstein was forcing Ms Roberts to have sex with him.  “The Prince didn’t give me money with his own hands,” she said. “Jeffrey always took care of paying me after I ‘entertained’ his friends.”  Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz – also named in the US court papers – said the claims against him were part of a pattern of “made-up stories” against prominent people, and advised the Duke to do everything in his power to clear his name…

First of all, it’s important to note that even in Roberts’ fantasy description of events, she was not a “slave” in any meaningful sense of the word; apparently she was employed by Epstein, and claims to have been (quite generously) paid for her work.  Unless I’m reading this incorrectly her entire case is based on the lawheaded premise that laws control reality, so that while she was an adult capable of consenting to sex, work or sex work while in the UK, she magically lost that agency as soon as she crossed into Florida because legislators had defined her as a “child” there.  By this “reasoning”, if I were to cross the border into a fundamentalist theocracy which defines women as morally incompetent, I would truly and actually lose the ability to make moral decisions, drive, consent to sex or whatever.  And presumably, anyone who took advantage of me would be subject to whatever charges might accrue to one who did so to a child.  The attorney who proposed such a moronic notion would be laughed out of court and possibly disbarred, and indeed Dershowitz proposes that’s what should be done here:

…Dershowitz…said he was not in the places described in the filing at the relevant times, with one exception:  He did visit Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean on one occasion…with [his] family…Dershowitz said…he’s planning to file bar complaints against [Brad] Edwards and [Paul] Cassell for inadequately vetting their client’s story.  “I’m planning to file disbarment charges against the two lawyers who signed this petition without even checking the manifests of airplanes or travel itineraries, et cetera,” he said. “I’m also challenging the young woman and the lawyers to level those charges against me outside of the courtroom, so that I can sue them for defamation…Finally, I’m challenging the woman to file criminal charges against me because the filing of false criminal charges is a crime”…

There will, of course, be no criminal charges, nor were any civil ones filed prior to this by Roberts or anyone else.  She has made many claims that are demonstrably untrue, as specified in both Dershowitz’s comments above and in regard to claims that she had met the Queen.  Even under the abysmally-low evidentiary standards of American civil litigation, the accusations made here are both factually and legally absurd.  Is Roberts deluded like so many spinners of “sex trafficking” tales, or is she just capitalizing on the panic du jour for a payout?  It hardly matters; either way, this is a case of a sexual fantasy being treated as fact by people drunk on the liquor of mass hysteria.

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