Group That Opposes Sex Work Gave Money to Prosecutors’ Offices — and Got Stings Against Johns in Return

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In a sting operation two years ago, Seattle-area police infiltrated a group of men who patronized Korean-born sex workers and wrote about them for a website called The Review Board. The undercover cops recorded the group’s gatherings at local restaurants, during which the men discussed the attributes of the sex workers; “she’s as close to perfect as I think they get made,” one man was heard saying. At the culmination of the investigation, undercover police arrested the men over nachos and beer, and videotaped it.

This video footage resurfaced as part of an ABC News “Nightline” report that aired in June. The “Nightline” segment was introduced by a newscaster who talked about women trapped in the “lurid world of sex trafficking.” The report relied heavily on interviews with a senior Seattle prosecutor, Valiant Richey, who said his goal was “dismantling these networks of buyers who are creating this vociferous demand for exploited women.” Richey told “Nightline” anchor Juju Chang that he travels across the country to educate other law enforcement officials about demand-based prosecutions in the hope that they will mount similar client stings.

“We looked hard at whether we had facts or not to file trafficking and it did not meet the standard.”

There is no mention in the 10-minute “Nightline” segment of the fact that Richey’s work was handsomely supported by Demand Abolition, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to end demand for sex work by going after buyers, or that the cost of some of his travels around the country has been defrayed by the same group. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Demand Abolition, in exchange for providing approximately $191,667 in funding to the King County prosecutor’s office over four years, asked Seattle-area law enforcement to carry out regular arrests and prosecutions of buyers with the goal of disrupting demand. As part of signed agreements for the funding, Richey and other law enforcement officials in King County were required to frame the activities of sex buyers and men involved with The Review Board as sex trafficking, according to court records and internal documents obtained through public records requests — even though there was no evidence of trafficking in these cases.

The post Group That Opposes Sex Work Gave Money to Prosecutors’ Offices — and Got Stings Against Johns in Return appeared first on The Intercept.

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