We’re going to, once again, start this post off with a collective siiiiigh. It can be a sigh of disappointment, of incredulity, or of embarrassment in our federal justice system–your choice.
Federal prosecutors say they want to see Rentboy CEO Jeffrey Hurant locked away for promoting prostitution.
Just to recap: In August 2015, 51-year-old Hurant and six of his employees were arrested during a sting operation in Manhattan. Hurant was charged with promoting prostitution, as well as two other money laundering charges. He pled guilty to the charges in October 2016.
Now, nearly two years after his initial arrest, Hurant is finally scheduled to be sentenced this Friday. His lawyers asked he be spared any jail time because his business promoted an “image of positivity and pride in gay sexuality.”
They also said that Hurant had numerous consultations with lawyers over the years about how to operate his business legally, and noted the positive benefits Rentboy.com provided sex workers, including doing away with pimps looking to make money off of gay sex transactions and prohibiting underage escorts.
But prosecutors want to make a lesson out of Hurant. They insist he ran “one of the largest prostitution enterprises” and that he made millions off of the backs of illegal sex workers and he deserves to be locked away for it.
“His role as Rentboy.com’s CEO was anything but humble,” prosecutors say. “Hurant made over $300,000 annually from Rentboy.com, a sum of money that any number of criminals would envy.”
They also called Hurant’s bluff on the whole eliminating pimps from gay sex claim, saying the site “continued to deal with pimps and escort agencies until it was closed.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Hurant have long claimed he has been unfairly targeted because Rentboy.com featured gay sex.
U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie will ultimately decide what the punishment will be. Sentencing guidelines, prosecutors say, recommend 15 to 21 months.
Prosecutors are pushing very hard for those 15-20 months.
“Without actual punishment in this case,” they said, “the operators of those websites will likely conclude that . . . they can expect only a slap on the wrist, hardly the type of punishment that would dissuade someone from the significant money that can be obtained through this type of criminal activity.”