Times Finds Rentboy Raid 'Peculiar,' CEO Jeffrey Hurant Defends Site


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 28, 2015

The raid on Rentboy.com earlier this week has raised questions about the government prosecuting a company that provided escorts via cyber-space to do their business. Today the New York Times editorialized on the case under the headline "Homeland Security's Peculiar Prosecution of Rentboy.com," coming down hard on the government action.

"It's somewhat baffling, though, 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. This week, the website's founder and six colleagues were charged with violating federal law by facilitating paid sexual encounters," the Times editorial board wrote.

"Kelly Currie, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, trumpeted the case against Rentboy.com, calling it an "Internet brothel" that made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution." The website pulled in $10 million over the past five years by charging escorts for publishing their profiles, according to prosecutors, less revenue than an average McDonald's franchise generates.

"The criminal complaint is so saturated with sexually explicit details, it's hard not to interpret it as an indictment of gay men as being sexually promiscuous.

"'Based on my investigation,' Susan Ruiz, a Homeland Security special agent, wrote, 'I have learned that a sling, also known as a "sex sling," is a device that allows two people to have sex while one is suspended.'" Later, she helpfully explained that 'the term "twink" is a slang term for a young, gay man with an effeminate manner, thin build, and no body or facial hair.'"

Rentboy.com CEO Jeffrey Hurant, 50, was one of the six arrested. Durant spoke to reporters outside of Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday after being indicted. He was released on $350,000 bond.

"I don't think that we do anything to promote prostitution," Hurant said in a report in the Daily Mail. "I think we do good things for good people, and we bring good people together."

Hurant said "he learned that the term 'rentboy' was British slang for male escorts while he was attending Oxford University, according to the criminal complaint. He has said he started the website because 'escorts were a disenfranchised group,' it says."

"We just want to keep the oldest profession in the world up to date with all the latest technology," the complaint quotes him as saying.