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Friday, August 19, 2016

Former Rentboy CEO, Jeffrey Hurant, is Finalizing a Plea Deal Over his Prostitution Charges...

Lawyers for Jeffrey Hurant, 51, said they were finishing up details of the agreement. 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief executive of male escort website is finalizing a plea agreement after his indictment for promoting prostitution, his lawyers said on Wednesday, in a case that has outraged gay and civil rights activists.

In a letter filed in federal court in Brooklyn, lawyers for Jeffrey Hurant, 51, said they were finishing up details of the agreement, and asked that a plea hearing be scheduled for the week of Aug. 29.

The filing does not detail to which charges Hurant or Easy Rent Systems Inc, which did business as, would potentially plead guilty. Both were indicted on three counts including promotion of prostitution and money laundering.

Hurant and the company had both previously pleaded not guilty.

Demonstrators hold signs as they protest the arrests of
male escort service staffers in 2015
Noam Biale, a lawyer for Hurant, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers also declined comment.

The potential plea comes a year after the August 2015 arrest of Hurant and six employees of, which authorities say was the largest online male escort website.

The website, which was founded in 1996 and targeted gay men, carried disclaimers saying its advertisements for escorts were for companionship and not sexual services. But authorities say was intended primarily to promote prostitution.

Escorts paid at least $59.95 per month and up to several hundred dollars to advertise on, which attracted 500,000 unique visitors daily and generated more than $10 million from 2010 to 2015, prosecutors said.

On Aug. 25, 2015, law enforcement officers seized evidence
from the Manhattan offices of
The case prompted criticism from some gay rights activists and sex worker rights groups, who questioned why prosecutors were targeting the service after it had operated transparently for nearly two decades.

Critics of the case have included The New York Times, which in an editorial in August 2015 said prosecutors had not justified shutting down “a company that provided sex workers with a safer alternative to street walking or relying on pimps.”

Following the criticism, federal prosecutors in February dropped charges against the six Rentboy employees. But they continued to prosecute Hurant and the company itself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

US Navy to Name Ship After Gay Rights Activist Harvey Milk

US Navy portrait of then Ens. Harvey Milk.
The US Navy is set to name a ship after the gay rights icon and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, according to a Congressional notification obtained by USNI News.

The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he
intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.
John Lewis-class oiler

The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring releasing additional information until the naming announcement, a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday.
Mabus has said the John Lewis-class – named after civil rights activist and congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – would be named after civil rights leaders.

Other names in the class include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s right activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

Mabus has also named ships in the past for other civil rights icons, including the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14).

Milk came from a Navy family and commissioned in the service in 1951. He served as a diving officer in San Diego during the Korean War on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake until 1955. Milk was honorably discharged from the service as a lieutenant junior grade.

Following his service, Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors and was the first openly gay California politician to be elected to office. He was killed in office in 1978. When Milk was shot he was wearing his U.S. Navy diver’s belt buckle.

Over the last several years, there have been pushes from California politicians to have a ship named for Milk since the 2011 repeal of the Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” policy.

Naming a ship after Milk, “will further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military,” said Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk in a statement to San Diego LGBT Weekly in 2012.