Brothel patrons have no expectation of privacy a Maine judge rules

January 29, 2013 |

Wired reports in Brothel Patrons Have No Legal Expectation of Privacy, Judge Rules that a Maine Judge dismissed privacy related charges against an accused who secretly filmed illicit sexual encounters in a makeshift brothel he allegedly operated.

It provides:

Brothel patrons have no expectation of privacy, a Maine judge has ruled while dismissing 49 criminal counts against a man accused of secretly filming illicit sexual encounters at his Zumba studio that authorities claim was a bordello.

A local judge dropped the counts against Mark Strong, Sr., who was accused of breaching the privacy of those who paid to have sex with his female business partner at a Kennebunk, Maine dance studio he managed.

The 57-year-old defendant’s attorney, Dan Lilley, successfully argued that the state law protecting the privacy of people in dressing rooms, locker rooms and restrooms did not apply to those having illegal sex with a prostitute.

That law, Lilley argued, “does not apply to bordellos, whorehouses and the like.” He said “those places are to commit crime. There is no expectation to privacy.”

The judge, Nancy Mills, agreed on Friday. “These patrons may have had a subjective expectation of privacy, but I can’t find an objective expectation of privacy that society would be willing to accept,” she said in her ruling, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Local prosecutors appealed to the state’s top court.

Thirteen other counts remain accusing Strong of promoting prostitution by allegedly turning the Zumba studio into a one-woman prostitution house.

The alleged prostitute, Alex Wright, 30, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts connected to prostitution, including the same 46 charges that were dropped against Strong.

Coverage of the case, in its pre trial motion phase, is found here.

It is a very curious ruling.  At least as reported.  That a person engages in illicit behaviour does not mean the State can or should not prosecute the offence of secretly taping that person.  There are two offences, the act of prostitution which is illegal in Maine, and the secret taping of a person who is engaged in that act.  One should not negate the other.  To do that would be poor public policy.  It would not be permissible for someone to burst in on another engaged in illicit sexual behaviour, to wit prostitution, and beat him or her and rely upon the illicit act as being a defence to the offence of assault.  Why then can not a “john” receive protections from anti surveillance legislation.  Put even higher, why should such a person not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Such a protection should exist to avoid instances of blackmail (or at least discourage it).

 

2 Responses to “Brothel patrons have no expectation of privacy a Maine judge rules”

  1. Petr Weston

    Interesting.

    Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether prostitution and using a prostitute’s services should be illegal …

    If we take the argument as stated, then what happens if I secretly record someone breaking into my house? Does my illegal act cancel out the thief’s illegal act? What happens if the camera which looks out over my front door records a rape in the street (secretly, as it is not obvious that the camera is present to someone outside my property)? Does my criminal act (as an unrelated third-party) negate the criminal act of the rapist?

    Or do we just assume that the judge does not like “bordellos, whorehouses and the like”?

  2. It is me

    Peter,

    This is a sensational, thought provoking blog. Who would have thought that a Judge could make such a determination ? And prostitution is illegal in some places – well you learn a new thing every day. I wonder if such a prohibition provides benefit to the broader community. The Alley Cat trade must be roaring. Such a can of worms. The ripple on effect would be fascinating to observe – everything from the sexual offense statistics to abortion rates. Drug and alcohol convictions and perhaps the most interesting would be the rate of divorce and average child production numbers per marriage.

    Is the fellow likely to appeal ?

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