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A college professor and former college president in New Mexico were recently acquitted of charges they were running a prostitution ring when a judge ruled their website, which functioned like a message board linking women to potential customers, wasn’t a true “house of prostitution.”That ruling, and scores of others, highlight the current problems plaguing prosecutors as they struggle to convict digital-age pimps using decades-old laws, The Associated Press reported Sunday.
“Sometimes states’ laws are too specific and were written years ago, long before the Internet,” Baylor University professor Scott Cunningham told the AP. “That’s why we are seeing some successful challenges to laws when websites are involved.”
The same confusion has reigned in Florida and Minnesota where website operators have gotten off because outdated prostitution laws don’t apply to their current activities.
In Florida, charges against the operators of escort service website Bigdoggie.net were dropped when a defence attorney argued the men were “hobbyists” using the website to brag about their experiences with escorts but not actually trying to run an escort business, according to the AP.
“What some of these sites are doing are screening prostitutes and screening potential customers, much like what pimps have historically done,” Cunningham told the AP. “The question is: Can they be prosecuted like pimps?”
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