Absent evidence of sexual trafficking, coercion, forced servitude or abuse of minors, I’ve never thought adult consensual prostitution (sex work) should be criminalized. That you can pay people to have sex if you film them and sell the resulting product (porn), but can’t pay them to have commercial sex that isn’t filmed for sale, seems absurd.
Charges against the owner of rentboy.com were originally brought in August 2015. The New York Times reported at that time on the odd circumstances behind the investigation, which was conducted by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security in league with Kelly T. Currie, at the time the acting U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn:
It’s somewhat baffling, though, that taking down a website that operated in plain sight for nearly two decades suddenly became an investigative priority for the Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
I guess there wasn’t enough on the terrorism front to keep DHS busy. Publicity seeking all round, particularly by Currie, who landed as a partner at NYC law firm Crowell & Moring.
More. Huffington Post noted that:
Germany legalized prostitution in 2001. A decade later, trafficking had decreased by 10 percent. New Zealand legalized it in 2003, and after five years a report found zero incidents of trafficking. But they did find that sex workers were more likely to report violence when it occurred.
After Canada legalized prostitution, sex workers experienced fewer homicides — and according to some reports, law enforcement harassment has made sex work more dangerous.
We even know how legal prostitution works in the US, since some Nevada counties regulate brothels. Researchers from the University of Nevada found brothels enforce monthly STI checks, mandatory condom usage and panic buttons in every room. Compare that to the NYPD, which has accused women of prostitution for carrying condoms.