BE ADVISED that even though i just learned about this yesterday,
this actually happened earlier this year on February 16th, 2016
At the time that Mr. Hurant and the six others were originally charged in August, the authorities, who raided and shut down the website, called it the largest online male-escort service and described it as an Internet brothel that made millions of dollars by promoting prostitution.
The original complaint against the seven defendants laid out prosecutors’ allegations and descriptions of the service in lurid details, including a list of sexual terms and definitions they said they culled from the website. Though the site had a disclaimer noting that paying for sex was illegal, “the entire website is designed for the purpose of advertising prostitution,” the complaint charged.
When the case was announced last summer, it drew wide press coverage and condemnation by gay rights activists, who compared it to police raids of gay bars in the 1950s and ’60s, and criticized the federal investigation of a website that had been operating in open view for more than 15 years. The Homeland Security Department became involved, apparently because the authorities believed the site promoted prostitution across state and national borders.
A spokeswoman for Robert L. Capers, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, declined to comment on the dismissals. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning that they could later be refiled.
Lawyers for some of the former employees whose charges were dismissed expressed relief.
Aaron Mysliwiec, a lawyer for Shane Lukas, a former chief operating officer, said: “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lukas was ever arrested. But we’re happy that he’s able to move on with his life.”
“Mr. Hurant did not commit a crime,” his lawyer, Michael Tremonte, said on Wednesday night. “It makes no sense to single him out for prosecution.”
In addition to Mr. Lukas, the other former Rentboy.com employees whose charges were dismissed were:
- Michael Sean Belman, the director of the site
- Edward Lorenz Estanol, an escort and former social media coordinator for the site
- Diana Milagros Mattos, a former saleswoman
- Clint Calero, a sales executive
- and Marco Soto Decker, an accountant.
On Wednesday, Mr. Estanol posted on Twitter a picture of himself retrieving his passport from the federal courthouse.
“This trial has been nothing but a huge inconvenience to me, but now that my case has been rightfully dismissed I can start to put back the pieces of my life that were taken from me,” Mr. Estanol wrote in the statement accompanying the picture. “I am forever grateful to everyone who supported me during the past few months. We will meet injustice with justice.”