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FL Sex Case Message: Women Are Blamed, Men Escape

At the Florida spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution, masseuse Lei Chen was charged with offering to commit it. Like Kraft, Chen allegedly was caught engaging in sex acts via surveillance cameras police installed inside the Jupiter, Fl., spa. Chen was charged with a felony. Police seized her savings and sent her to jail, where she spent more than 14 weeks, the Boston Globe reports. Kraft was charged with two misdemeanors and never set foot in court, let alone jail. The high-powered legal team he dispatched to squelch the charges won a ruling suppressing the video evidence, which is being appealed. His success could pave the way to freedom for 200 other men accused of paying for sex in 10 day spas. Chen is not free. When she posted bail on prostitution charges, she was transferred to ICE custody.

When the case started, Florida authorities were adamant about who deserved blame. Martin County Sheriff William Snyder portrayed most of the women peddling prostitution at day spas as victims, calling the men who hired them “monsters.” Yet only 40 of 246 men charged with solicitation accepted the consequences and begun community service and education programs. Most are resisting charges or piggybacking off the work of Kraft’s legal team. Sixteen women were charged with felonies. The international crime ring that police aimed to take down never materialized. Only one of the women professed to be a victim of sex trafficking. “This is a situation where law enforcement has egg all over their face. Somebody’s got to go down for this. And it’s going to be the women,” said Amy Farrell, a Northeastern University criminologist. In the end, the case may send the exact opposite of its intended message, reassuring men that they won’t be blamed for sex crimes. Women will.