By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
BROOKLYN, NY — In a packed courtroom loaded with supporters of Rentboy.com’s Jeffrey Hurant, U.S. District Court Judge Margo Brodie, sentenced the founder of the legendary online hookup site to six months in federal prison for being the owner and operator of the now closed gay escort website.
Judge Margo Brodie noted while announcing Hurant’s sentence that she had received letters from many users of the Rentboy site praising Hurant’s decency, but also made it a point to state that she couldn’t ignore Jeffrey Hurant’s illegal activities which prosecutors had claimed grossed nearly $10 million over the past 5 years.
“The guidelines range of imprisonment should be 15 to 21 months,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Smith, who prosecuted Hurant and who also wrote in a July 16 sentencing memorandum stating that in a previously negotiated plea agreement, the government agreed to seek just a one-level reduction in the government guidelines for offenses of this type.” said Smith.
Jeffrey Hurant asked for leniency from the judge and said that while he thought the prostitution laws were wrong, his raid, arrest and subsequent treatment by the United States judiciary system had taught him that he needed to try to change such laws instead of exploiting them.
“I believe that consensual sex work between adults should be decriminalized and destigmatized,” said Hurant said as he was escorted out of the courtroom by bailiffs. “But that hasn’t happened yet. My business was ultimately illegal, but it shouldn’t have been. We must fearlessly fight for the rights to allow consensual adults to choose what they do with their bodies.” said Hurant.
Notable supporters of Hurant included five gay New York City Council members, who stated in a letter released to the press…”A harsh sentence will serve neither society nor the rehabilitation of Mr. Hurant.” Not only did Hurant enjoy support from city council members, he also received endorsements from two New York Congressman, Jerrold Nader and Sean Patrick Maloney, who called Hurant’s prosecution “a waste of money”.
This is a fact! Jeffrey Hurant operating a business that did not harm anyone and who also provided income for many Gay men nationwide.
In fact, Hurant long held that he created Rentboy so that sex workers could practice their profession safely. Even Judge Brodie seemed to agree…”The very thing that is illegal, there is no question it did a lot of good,” said Judge Brodie during sentencing.
Hurant’s sentence even captured the attention of the New York Times editorial page where they called it “somewhat baffling … 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.”
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