New York’s laws prohibiting the promotion of prostitution have led to some very famous prosecutions over the years. Sydney Biddle Barrows, known as the Mayflower Madam, parlayed her arrest as the owner of a high-end escort service into fame, films, and a book deal back in the 1980’s.
New York tabloids are now covering the call girl ring allegedly run by Anna Gristina, the so-called “Soccer Mom Madam.” From most reports, this investigation may lead to charges being brought against many more individuals for the crime of promoting prostitution, including lawyers, accountants, and others who may be accused of “laundering” the proceeds of the criminal activity.
The relevant New York Penal Law Statutes for prostitution offenses can be found in Section 230.
A person can be accused of promoting prostitution if he or she “advances prostitution” or profits from prostitution. To be accused of advancing prostitution, it must be alleged that the defendant “knowingly causes or aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution, procures or solicits patrons for prostitution, provides persons or premises for prostitution purposes, operates or assists in the operation of a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise, or engages in any other conduct designed to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution.”
In other words, anyone who assists the operation.
To be found guilty of promoting prostitution by profiting from prostitution, a person must have received compensation other than for personally engaging in a sex act. So, landlords, accountants, lawyers, madams, pimps could all be prosecuted under this theory.
Promoting Prostitution offenses under New York law can be very serious, with specific crimes ranging from an A misdemeanor to a B felony, depending on the age of the prostitute, the level of organizational management and control exhibited by the accused, and whether any force or coercion is alleged.
For more information on prostitution laws in New York, see a previously published article.
Please keep in mind that nothing discussed in this article is intended as legal advice, and it should not be considered as such. Laws change frequently, and each case is unique, so be sure to consult an attorney for advice about your particular situation.