UPDATE: Rentboy Raid Gets National Headlines, Concern From Escorts

Posted August 25, 2015 10:39 PM by with 0 comments

Rentboy Raid

Jeffrey Hurant CEO Rentboy.com. Photo credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

According to a 22-page complaint filed by Susan Ruiz, a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security (click here for a .pdf of the full filing), this morning’s raid on the Rentboy.com were because the site was conspiring to use “interstate commerce with intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on and facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, and carrying on of … prostitution and promotion of prostitution …”

According to the New York Times, who published the above photo of CEO Jeffrey Hurant, the seven current or former Rentboy.com employees arrested earlier today have all been released on bonds ranging from $50,000 to $350,000. (The Times also included a quote from gay porn star Ryan Raz’s profile).

The complaint alleges that, despite many disclaimers suggesting otherwise, the site “is designed primarily for the advertisement of sexual services” and they make money “through payments from escorts for advertisements on the site.”

Rentboy raid

Photo credit Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Buzzfeed reported on the raid, adding that, “The government is also attempting to restrain the site’s domain name and seize more than $1.4 million of “alleged criminal proceeds.” The growing list of mainstream news outlets to pick up the story include The Wall Street JournalCNNNewsweek, The Washington Post, and The Daily Beast.

Hurant issued a statement saying the following:

“I don’t think that we do anything to promote prostitution. I think we do good things for good people, and we bring good people together.”

Rentboy Raid

Rentboy CEO Jeffrey Hurant. Photo via Facebook

In a post for The Stranger, Dan Savage argues that the site might actually be helping reduce violence against sex workers:

“… You know what pimps are, right? They’re those violent and exploitative monsters that anti-sex-work activists and law enforcement officials insist they’re trying to protect sex workers from. So the anti-sex-work logic goes like this: Pimps are terrible! Sites like Rentboy.com put pimps out of business! We have to shut down those sites!”

He also questions why the Department of Homeland Security was involved in this raid in the first place:

“And since when did it become the Department of Homeland Security’s job to protect gay and bi men from buying and selling blowjobs?”

Chris Sosa, writing for the Huffington Post, calls the raid an attack on the gay community, urging us to:

“… Think about all the quiet acts of violence committed by our government against sex workers and LGBT Americans … Sex workers shouldn’t be forced to live in the shadows, facing violence alone and without access to the basic health and human services those in non-criminalized professions take for granted. The criminalization of sex work is based in nothing more than petty moral outrage.”

Finally, for NY-based activist @mitchyllmora tweeted the following advice escorts and users of site concerned about legal repercussions of the raid:

**He also posted information about an emergency Know Your Rights workshop tomorrow, Wednesday, (August 26), in Manhattan from 5 to 7 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church’s Assembly Hall, at 239 Thompson in Manhattan. The meeting is being organized by independent lawyers and community organizers with the aim of summarizing the information contained in the criminal complaint as well as some broad-stroke legal concerns for advertisers of Rentboy, as well as prostitution-related New York State laws.**

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