Author: has written 5302 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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71 Responses

  1. dd
    dd December 12, 2008 at 4:58 pm |

    So they both broke more laws than they got charged with? Is this what we’re upset about? Did she not expect to be charged with something herself? While it may be a goal to have sex work decriminalized, that is not the current reality.

  2. Amy
    Amy December 12, 2008 at 5:04 pm |

    No dd, we’re upset that the sergeant was so flippant about her reporting a PHYSICAL ASSAULT. Can you show me the part of the law that makes it legal to beat up sex workers?

  3. gg
    gg December 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm |

    As gross as that article is, the responses from law students on the listserv are even worse. My personal “favorite”:
    “Let’s say Deuce Bigalow (male gigolo) was a law student and was smacked
    around by one of his clients. Deuce goes to the AAPD and says, “I’m a male
    prostitute, and one of my clients assaulted me.” The cop says, “You’ve just
    admitted to me that you committed a crime. You should have cracked open one
    of your law books first.” Would all of you be up in arms screaming sexsim?”

    Lovely. just lovely. I can’t believe I go to school with these people.

  4. Cara
    Cara December 12, 2008 at 5:06 pm |

    “Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this,” Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said.

    And perhaps you should learn to differentiate between violent crimes and non-violent “crimes” which have no victims, fuckwad.

    Fuck off, dd. And anyone else who wants to come along and argue that sex workers don’t have a right to safely report violent crimes committed against hem.

  5. dd
    dd December 12, 2008 at 5:13 pm |

    How could he have been convicted on the assault charge? There’s no way it could’ve been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Honestly, the fact that he got charged with SOMETHING and the fact that her charge was no more severe than his actually seems kind of like good news to me. We both know that in other places, the outcome would have been very different.

    The officer’s remark to the newspaper was stupid. I may very well have missed it, but I don’t see where they treated her like shit. The article said they didn’t charge him with assault because it was unprovable. How they treated her in the meantime isn’t mentioned. It may very well have been shit, for all I know.

    So yeah, too bad sex work is still illegal and she got charged. Worse is that, had she been “on the street” rather than a law student, her treatment would likely have been worse and his, better.

  6. Renee
    Renee December 12, 2008 at 5:14 pm |

    Stuff like this is exactly why sex workers don’t trust the police. This kind of shit just tells women that unless you are pure as the driven snow that an assault against you does not count. What someone does for a living should not matter when they have been assaulted. The statements of law enforcement amount to victim shaming.

  7. Michael Hussey
    Michael Hussey December 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm |

    None of this surprises me: a University of Tampa student reported a rape was was arrested because of a warrant on a student loan. The TPD officer made no inquiries about the rapist. The woman was not allowed the morning after pill. There was another rape mishandled. Both took place during the same Gasparilla parade.

    Tampa’s richest men have their exclusive Tampa Yacht Club. They have a yearly Gasparilla parade The bogus pirates throw beads to women that expose their breasts. The club shut the parade down in 1991 because they did not want to let a black man in the club.

    The experience crystallized Freedman’s qualms about Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the 750-member, all-male social club — then exclusively white — that sponsors Tampa’s biggest one-day outdoor event, the annual Gasparilla invasion and parade. In 1990, Freedman decided to pull police support and clean-up service for the parade — which had cost the city $30,000 — because of its all-white membership.

    That was a painful year for the Krewe, a national embarrassment that members don’t like to talk about. With the parade moved to coincide with Super Bowl XXV in January 1991, the Krewe came under fire for its exclusivity from the National Football League and an ad hoc group of local activists called the Coalition of African-American Organizations, which demanded that the Krewe integrate. Rather than immediately open its doors to blacks, the Krewe canceled the party.

    Off topic, but the Gasparilla parade sickens me. Two mishandled rape cases and racism. Fuck Gasparilla.

  8. jermor
    jermor December 12, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

    I go to UM, and I find this whole thing really disgusting. I just sent an email to the Ann Arbor police, and I would encourage other people to do the same. You can contact them at (734) 994-2911 or

  9. Michael Hussey
    Michael Hussey December 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm |

    This troubled me about the Above The Law post (besides the snark.)

    When he was interviewed by police, Eliav said he responded to the online ad because he was interested in experimenting sexually. He said he complied when she told him to stop certain activities and admitted to slapping her face, but said it was “like a game,” reports said.

    Short answer: I knew I knocked her senseless, but I have to b.s. to the cops.

  10. Thomas
    Thomas December 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm |

    This is an outrage. I am outraged.

    This woman has the right to have her boundaries respected; the ones she negotiates. Physical violation of her boundaries is a more serious offense than how she makes her money. It’s like police mocking an underaged drinker because he got robbed and beaten at gunpoint while trying to get a strawbuyer. But they wouldn’t do that. They’d try to find the assailant. Because we as a society understand that some kids will drink underage, but we continue to refuse the most basic empathy to sex workers.

    I don’t think she’s stupid. I think she’s brave, for standing up for her rights. It’s not even entirely clear from the ATL story that she agreed to do anything illegal with this guy. Is agreeing to be spanked for money a crime in Michigan? States vary widely. Did she have intercourse with him for money? Or do anything sexual that it’s illegal to trade in Michigan for money? Not at all clear.

    And even if she did, these cops are just telling sex workers that there’s no law to protect them. If a trick beats them, tough shit, say the cops. Come to us, you’ll get charged.

    That’s as close as I can get to coherence. What the police did to this woman is a violation of the basic concept of “protect and serve;” an affront to any concept of functioning public policy. These are obviously the kind of police that think their job is to keep people in their designated place.

  11. manyshoes
    manyshoes December 12, 2008 at 5:32 pm |

    ugh – I almost posted that “worst” response from a UM law student – but coming here and finding it already up, well, to be fair to the UM community, let’s keep in mind the many comments that are far more critical of the police and supportive of the student.

    “I’m appalled by the flippant and condescending nature of Detective Richard Kinsey’s comment to the Ann Arbor News (check out the link below for full story). So a woman goes to the police for help and this is the attitude she is met with? It’s almost as if he is delighting in the fact that something like this happened to a law student – he shouldn’t be concerned with cracking jokes – he should be concerned with her safety. Absolutely unacceptable. This guy should resign.”


    “Seconded. Police cracking jokes about a woman who went to them to report abuse is completely unacceptable. A cop with any sense of decency would have thought twice about publicly humiliating an assault victim, and sending the message the that AA police will not protect women who come to them for help. I hope the student comes out of this OK.”

    Also the request for a little respect for one of our own. Yeah – law school d-bags are part and parcel – but I’m not seeing that as the majority tone.

  12. Lyndsay
    Lyndsay December 12, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

    “The police charged both the student and Eliav with the misdemeanor charge of using a computer to commit a crime. Eliav was not charged with assault, and retains his position at the university.”

    Wait…they charged Eliav with being a part of the “crime” of prostitution? Is that right? The rest of the story is horrible but I didn’t know the person hiring a sex worker was ever charged. But a misdemeanor means almost nothing right? It won’t go on your criminal record?

    Sadly, I’ve talked with people who have no sympathy or compassion at all if something happened to someone while they were committing a “crime” no matter what the crime. The argument is they were “asking for it” by putting themselves in that situation and prostitution should be illegal because people don’t want to see these women on the streets. :(

  13. CTD
    CTD December 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm |

    Be reasonable. If the situation was as described in the article, you are never going to get a conviction based on the evidence (or lack thereof) offered. She’ll say “He hit me.” He’ll say “Did not.” Most any jury would find that that isn’t enough to overcome reasonable doubt and reach a guilty verdict. No prosecutor is going to take that shaky a case for a (at best) misdemeanor assault or battery charge.

  14. Thomas
    Thomas December 12, 2008 at 6:09 pm |

    Lyndsay, a misdemeanor is a criminal conviction. In rare circumstances, misdemeanors can result in up to one year of incarceration. Depending on the state, there are noncriminal santions called “violations,” “offenses” or other things that are like traffic tickets, but a misdemeanor is a crime. She will have to disclose that if she seeks admission to the bar, and she could be excluded from the practice of law.

  15. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 12, 2008 at 6:33 pm |

    Christ Jaysus. I’m thinking that if an underage, drunken guy was robbed, they’d take it seriously.

    This is sickening. Truly sickening.

  16. the15th
    the15th December 12, 2008 at 7:17 pm |

    The Ann Arbor police don’t have a great record for taking crimes against any students seriously. But this is a new low.

  17. Holly
    Holly December 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm |

    This is absurd. You can’t assault someone, even if they were committing a crime. In most states you can’t even shoot someone who’s stealing your car, nor can you do things like install booby traps that commit bodily harm on people who try to steal stuff. It’s not allowed, and that’s part of civilized society. In this case, the asshole professor wasn’t even the “victim” of any crime, he was participating in another (victimless) crime with her.

    If two burglars were robbing a house, and one of them shot the other one, the shooter would still be charged with two crimes, one of them murder.

    The only reasons this guy was not charged are:

    a) it’s a “he said, she said” which would be hard to convict on — but they should have at least charged him. I mean, the guy confessed to slapping her! She experienced vision problems! This stuff can be confirmed.

    b) the police think it’s not really a crime to beat up a sex worker, which is completely fucking typical.

  18. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm |

    There’s no way it could’ve been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    Did you read the part where he admitted it to the cops?

  19. roses
    roses December 12, 2008 at 7:52 pm |

    he article said they didn’t charge him with assault because it was unprovable.

    But he admitted it! What’s left to prove?

  20. LN
    LN December 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm |

    Hi all… I realize a lot of people here will disagree with this, which is fine, but some of the previous comments have been pretty nasty to opposing viewpoints. Please go easy on me!

    If I’m not mistaken, it hasn’t been stated that the professor won’t necessarily be charged with assault in the future, right? And there’s still the possibility of a civil assault/battery suit that the student can pursue.

    So besides the officer’s clearly insensitive comments, what else is a problem here? It seems to me that much of the outrage here is directed towards the fact that she’s being charged with a crime that she committed. It’s the state’s position that prostitution is a crime that should be punished, and when a woman walks into a police station and admits to the crime, I don’t see how the police can ignore it. It would be inappropriate for a local police station to abrogate a law passed by a democratically elected legislation, so as I see it, the police acted correctly.

    What would be wrong would be for the police station to completely ignore the assault charge while acting on the admitted prostitution. As far as I can tell, there’s no proof that this happened. Maybe they decided that the extent of the assault wasn’t enough to support criminal charges (was she injured in any way that can still be proven?), or maybe they’re still investigating. Or maybe she dropped the criminal charges herself to avoid publicity (obviously unsuccessfully).

    If so, the only problem I see here is the appalling comment by the officer (which is, of course, a pretty big problem). The prostitution charge? I sympathize with the student that she was in that situation, but it was a completely appropriate charge. She admitted to committing a crime. While she most certainly has the right to go to the police to complain about a crime, she shouldn’t be off the hook for what she did. That’s the tradeoff she willingly assumed (fully informed, being a law student) when she engaged in illegal conduct.

  21. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus December 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm |

    Here’s what I don’t get: what crime did the student commit?

  22. denelian
    denelian December 12, 2008 at 11:26 pm |

    um… question. he is a professor or otherwise a part of the faculty. she is a student. isn’t he AGAINST THE RULES for him to socialize with a student?
    i’m not trying to ignore or downgrade the assult – the fucker should have been charged! but if the police won’t charge him, why isn’t the school? aren’t they required to take action in this sort of case?

    does anyone know if she is ok? has she had a CT and an MRI to make sure there is no permanent damage?

  23. Puppycat
    Puppycat December 12, 2008 at 11:27 pm |

    in alot of states consenting to being slapped with a belt on your ass is not a crime. and i think where it isn’t clearly legal its usually at least a grey area.

  24. Puppycat
    Puppycat December 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm |

    another example of why decrim is a feminist issue?

  25. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses December 13, 2008 at 12:01 am |

    And again I ask myself, “Benson and Stabler, why can’t you be real???”

  26. abyss2hope
    abyss2hope December 13, 2008 at 12:04 am |

    Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey’s statement communicates clearly that he is siding with those who commit assaults and that victims of violent crime who were violating the law without violence shouldn’t expect that detective or any other detective to do anything to stop the violent unless the non-violent criminal is murdered.

    That’s a pro-crime position, not an anti-crime position.

  27. blueDerby
    blueDerby December 13, 2008 at 12:43 am |

    um… question. he is a professor or otherwise a part of the faculty. she is a student. isn’t he AGAINST THE RULES for him to socialize with a student?

    Socialize? Definitely not. As for sexual involvement, I believe the rule at UoM is that it’s not prohibited, but there has to be disclosure, and if the faculty member is an instructor of that student, all those duties get assigned to someone else as soon as the university is told about the relationship (basically you get transferred to another class).

    An assault conviction would be a different story, naturally.

  28. exholt
    exholt December 13, 2008 at 2:41 am |

    Clearly that cop does not seem to know or care about prioritization of crimes based on severity and potential threat to public safety.

    This quote:

    That’s a pro-crime position, not an anti-crime position.

    is dead on.

    You can’t assault someone, even if they were committing a crime. In most states you can’t even shoot someone who’s stealing your car, nor can you do things like install booby traps that commit bodily harm on people who try to steal stuff.

    No booby traps or shooting thieves making off with your stuff, but there is one exception where assaulting or even killing someone who is committing a crime may be legally justified in many states….if said individual/individuals acted or is seemed by “reasonable person standards” to be a threat to one’s immediate physical safety/life or in some cases that of a family or friend. Self-defense is considered a legitimate defense in such cases.

    um… question. he is a professor or otherwise a part of the faculty. she is a student. isn’t he AGAINST THE RULES for him to socialize with a student?

    Though nearly every college/university officially discourages student/Prof relationships, they are usually ignored unless it is found the Prof has some sort of supervisory position over said student such as being his/her advisor, course instructor, etc.

    Considering the Prof happens to be teaching Middle-East Studies which I assume is in UMich’s Arts & Letters division and the student is attending UMich’s law school, the only plausible way I can see this coming up from what I’ve seen practiced at the universities/colleges I attended/visited was if she happened to be taking one of his courses and/or he happens to be her academic adviser. Though they are both part of the same universities, they are part of separate academic divisions which can often be similar as if they are almost in separate institutions at some large research universities.

    Regardless, he should be tossed out for moral turpitude IMHO.

    Unfortunately, my cynical sense is that his department and the university may end up strongly defending him unless his scholarly research is lacking, he was dumb enough to piss off too many powerful senior colleagues, and/or he is untenured.

  29. MelissaRose
    MelissaRose December 13, 2008 at 3:47 am |

    Jermor mentioned emailing the police at My first reaction was also “who can I email.” So here’s a list of contact information for several people involved in this case. Let’s express some constructive outrage.

    This prof is being investigated within the University. Personally, I’m disgusted he still has a job. Here is the contact info for his department head, his dean, the board of regents and the president of the university.

    Department Head of Near Eastern Studies, Gary Beckman: contact info can be found via his webpage:

    Dean of College of Literature Science and the Arts, Terrence McDonald: phone: (734) 936-7540 email:

    Board of Regents, including President Mary Sue Coleman, contact page:

    Also, here’s the contact info for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian L. Mackie:

    (734) 222-6620

    And let’s not forget letters to the editor; this is the submission form for the paper that ran the story:

  30. craig mcdonough
    craig mcdonough December 13, 2008 at 8:06 am |

    let me get this straight:
    – the professor admitted soliciting sex
    – with a student at the same institution he teaches at
    – he admits to assault & battery
    – he is in the newspapers with his admission

    and he still has his job?

    It sounds like the Ann Arbor police aren’t the only ones with student assault blindness

  31. LiquidMetal
    LiquidMetal December 13, 2008 at 9:07 am |

    I am not really seeing the problem with the Deuce Bigalow quote.
    People make fun of those who self-incriminate all the time, male or female, so its hard to see it as inherently sexist. A section of “News of the Weird” is devoted to stupid criminals, with items like people (usually male) calling police to complain that their marijuana stash was stolen. No, marijuana shouldn’t be illegal, and certainly stealing remains wrong, but that doesn’t mean incriminating yourself is necessarily a smart move.

    Although undeniably insensitive, the biggest thing wrong with the policeman’s statement was its stupidity. As a police officer, he should be encouraging people to turning themselves in, not deter it through ridicule.

  32. Peter
    Peter December 13, 2008 at 10:57 am |

    So they both broke more laws than they got charged with? Is this what we’re upset about? Did she not expect to be charged with something herself? While it may be a goal to have sex work decriminalized, that is not the current reality.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but is telling the police that one committed prostitution a “crime”? I don’t think so. Barack Obama “told” the world that he smoked marijuana, and did cocaine. As far as I know The police can’t charge you for that. They can only charge you if they catch you in the act of solicitation, or in the actual possession of illegal drugs.

    Beyond that, this is pretty fucked up. No one deserves to get physically abused, and what kind of message is this police conduct sending? That sex workers can get the shit beaten out of them, but they are discouraged from reporting it?

  33. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 13, 2008 at 11:24 am |

    Purely in the interests of getting that professor fired, maybe it would be a good idea to focus on the effects that his behavior will have on his own students? After hearing about this, *I* certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a class with that asshole, and no other female students should be forced to either.

  34. exholt
    exholt December 13, 2008 at 11:35 am |

    Purely in the interests of getting that professor fired, maybe it would be a good idea to focus on the effects that his behavior will have on his own students? After hearing about this, *I* certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a class with that asshole, and no other female students should be forced to either.

    That would work if one points out the fundamental hypocrisy of an educational institution like UMich lecturing about the ills of social and economic inequality and inequitable institutions/processes on the one hand while condoning/downplaying this Prof’s assault along with how if this Prof gets away with his assault, that this proves how large research universities who tend to overwhelmingly privilege academic research/scholarship production over all else don’t really give much of a damn about their own students.

  35. Aaron
    Aaron December 13, 2008 at 12:44 pm |

    The police love “stupid criminal” stories, and somebody who confesses a crime while reporting a crime falls into that paradigm. A similar story that comes up from time to time is the drug dealer who goes to the police to report that somebody stole his stash. It raises similar issues – nobody should be robbed, even if they’re a drug dealer, and discouraging drug dealers from reporting crimes can result in bad things happening.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but is telling the police that one committed prostitution a “crime”? …. They can only charge you if they catch you in the act of solicitation, or in the actual possession of illegal drugs.

    More accurately, presented with an out-of-court confession alone, they normally need corroboration. Finding the online ad, or getting confirmation from the suspect in the assault case, can provide the necessary corroboration to result in charges.

    If I’m not mistaken, it hasn’t been stated that the professor won’t necessarily be charged with assault in the future, right?

    The plea bargain implicitly, and quite possibly explicitly, rules out additional charges.

    I hope the prosecutor’s office chooses not to oppose a deferral for the woman.

  36. Radfem
    Radfem December 13, 2008 at 3:38 pm |

    Stuff like this is exactly why sex workers don’t trust the police. This kind of shit just tells women that unless you are pure as the driven snow that an assault against you does not count. What someone does for a living should not matter when they have been assaulted. The statements of law enforcement amount to victim shaming.

    Yes, to all of this.

  37. Puppycat
    Puppycat December 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm |

    Stupid criminals? Seriously? Sex workers ought to be able to report ASSAULT and other violent crimes without fearing arrest. Do you disagree with that? If sex workers can’t report these crimes (and this is the reason many of us don’t), then violent criminals go free all for the sake of enforcing a stupid vice crime. Assault etc. aren’t on the same level of severity as getting your stash stolen. But I do think drug dealers/users should be able to report crimes (esp. serious crimes) against themselves too.

  38. Pixie
    Pixie December 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm |

    The professor should definitely be charged with assault and battery, and lose his job. Ridicule her all they want to for being stupid, but it doesn’t change the fact she was battered and that’s a significantly more serious crime than prostitution. Even if the guy claims she consented to the battery… 1L criminal law: you can’t give consent to be battered.

    However, that definitely doesn’t mean the law student did either the right thing or the smart thing. First, I don’t care how much tuition is at her school, if she intended to ever sit for the bar in any state, selling sex is a definite deal-breaker for her character and fitness requirements. $40K a year is a big waste of money if you’re prohibited from practicing law after graduation. Also, I guess she never heard of the 5th Amendment? In reporting the crime committed against her, she didn’t have to confess her own crime. “I was engaged in consensual sex with the Professor but then he physically assaulted and battered me” would have sufficed. Any questioning beyond that and she could have invoked her right to not self-incriminate. Without her confession, or his, that money changed hands, they would have no reason to even suspect her of prostitution, let alone charge her for it. Even if the scumbag incriminated himself by saying he paid her for sex, it probably wouldn’t be enough to make it stick. If she was a sex worker unfamiliar with the law, that would be an entirely different story, and I would say she should be applauded for her bravery in coming forward and reporting the abuse even though she didn’t understand she didn’t have to incriminate herself, and I’d be outraged that she would be charged. But she’s a law student! Even 1L’s have no excuse for self-incrimination. While the authorities should be doing their jobs and charging the scumbag, that still doesn’t make her any less of an idiot. I’d ask for a refund on that $40K. If her law school hasn’t taught her to protect her own rights, I doubt it’s taught her to protect those of her future clients. I feel the same way about a guy I went to school with who gave the police permission to enter and search his premises when they otherwise would not have had cause, and they found drugs and charged him with possession. He should have known to exercise his rights. He had to wait to sit for the bar to prove fitness, as this woman likely will, because of the infraction.

    But the law student aside, this is exactly the problem with the criminalization of the sex trade: it doesn’t protect women, it only endangers them. Fear of prosecution prevents women from reporting crimes committed against them while in the scope of their employment, which merely empowers the abuser even more. And keeping the activity covert greatly increases the risk of abuse. Assault and battery of a sex worker isn’t something to trivialize. Abuse is never something to trivialize.

  39. Dani
    Dani December 13, 2008 at 6:19 pm |

    Ah, I see that Washtenaw County is still using that “using a computer to commit a crime” statute to nail people who otherwise ought to be charged with what they actually did. Stay classy, Washtenaw County Prosecutor.

    /former UMLS tuition-payer

  40. Puppycat
    Puppycat December 13, 2008 at 11:15 pm |

    Yeah what the fuck ever. I don’t give a flying fuck about this law school shit but its all sort of beside the point isnt it.

  41. NormaJ
    NormaJ December 14, 2008 at 1:19 pm |

    Thank you for writing about this. It has been profoundly depressing to read the student listserv, thinking I go to school with these people. In defense of the community however, many more students have spoken out, on the listserv, in opposition to the jackassery that has been going on. Many more stay off the listserv because it is a wierd place to engage in social commentary, and we are in the middle of finals, but many people are appalled, both at the police and the lawstudent community’s response to what is clearly a very difficult situation for one of our own colleagues.

  42. CJ
    CJ December 14, 2008 at 7:37 pm |

    Norma: God forbid reasonable people disagree about something.

    There are arguments to be made for both sides. Those who posted their opinions to the UMLaw listserv (which I am on) generally made logical arguments, even those in opposition to what you (and I) believe.

    That’s the thing about going to a law school that’s great enough to attract so many different people — you’re going to have to deal with people who believe different from you. The way you’re castigating them, you’re more intolerant than those you’re claiming superiority over.

  43. NormaJ
    NormaJ December 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm |

    CJ: might I be allowed to “deal” with what I see as insensitive behavior by feeling depressed about it? I have no problems with abstract arguments that reflect people’s logical attempts to deal with a problem. This particular issue was not a law school hypothetical however since it dealt with a real person in our midst. As such it was far thornier because of the possibility that the woman concerned may well have been reading the listserv, and as her colleagues we could have shown her a little more respect and sensitivity. I see no reason to be tolerant of people’s insensitivity to others.

  44. NormaJ
    NormaJ December 14, 2008 at 9:55 pm |

    And just to be clear, I was not lambasting the entire listserv, and I’m sorry if that’s how it came across. My issue is only with the most egregious conduct – that which showed no respect for a fellow student’s predicament and turned the situation into a lawschool hypothetical.

  45. J.
    J. December 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm |

    This is at least one of a million serious reasons that criminalized sex work fucking sucks. Women have no recourse when confronted with violence. Prostitutes (though what this student was doing may or may have been having sex, and I also hate the word ‘prostitute’) are treated like totally rape-able, totally _deserving_ of having all their bodily integrity violated (“Well, she knew what she was doing was ‘illegal,’ so she deserved it and shouldn’t have come crying to us about it. What does she THINK, that sex workers are human beings who have physical boundaries and rights?”).

    Just bullshit. I want to wring these people’s necks.

  46. J.
    J. December 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |

    Hehe. Irony in my own desire to commit violence against people committing violence noted.

  47. J.
    J. December 14, 2008 at 10:32 pm |

    And against people just being assholes about violence.

  48. J
    J December 15, 2008 at 9:15 am |

    Without regard to whether the AA police are dickwads, an assault conviction against him would have been really difficult. She had agreed that in return for his paying her $400, he would (among other things) commit various acts of violence against her. That’s why hitting her with the belt wasn’t assault. So when it comes to slapping her in the face, the prosecutor would have to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) slapping her in the face wasn’t *also* within the scope of what she had agreed to; (2) he *knew* at the time that slapping her in the face wasn’t within the scope of what she agreed to; and (3) if he thought that slapping her lightly was within the scope of what she had agreed to, his slapping her harder was intentional rather than accidental. As a practical matter, it’s really really hard to prove criminal assault against sex workers who are arguing that they agreed to *some* violence, but not *this* violence, because the issue then becomes not whether there was violence, but what they agreed to.

  49. Cara
    Cara December 15, 2008 at 9:33 am |

    So when it comes to slapping her in the face, the prosecutor would have to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) slapping her in the face wasn’t *also* within the scope of what she had agreed to; (2) he *knew* at the time that slapping her in the face wasn’t within the scope of what she agreed to;

    What the hell does that even mean? How could he possibly think that she had agreed to being slapped hard across the face if she didn’t explicitly say that she agreed to be slapped hard across the face? Do tell. Because you present her consenting, and him believing that she consented as two different things. If she didn’t consent, if she didn’t say “yes” or some other very similar assenting word to such a request or explicitly said herself that it was allowed, then there’s no way for him to reasonably believe that she didn’t. The end. Consent is not complicated.

  50. jabuticaba
    jabuticaba December 15, 2008 at 10:03 am |

    Cara –

    I agree with you, in a philosophical sense. HOWEVER, the state of the law involves such a thing as “implied consent” (which I, personally, think is bullshit) which means that if a certain “unsanctioned” action, because of certain dealings or agreements with a plaintiff, is likely to be consented to in the future, a defendant may assume that it has been consented to. (sorry if that’s not perfectly clear, i finished exams a few days ago and am fried).

    If she agreed (yes, it was reluctantly, i know) to allow him to hit her ass with a belt, a jury may find it believable that being slapped in the face was within the scope of consent.

    consent and belief of consent are two different things, in the law. some crimes are “specific intent” crimes, where the defendant has to intend to cause the ILLEGAL action, not just the action. so he may have intended to slap her across the face, but did not intend to slap her across the face WITHOUT her consent. (sketch, i know).

    the civil definition of battery (which is where this would fall in a civil trial) is “having the intent to cause an unsanctioned or harmful bodily contact, and a harmful or unsanctioned bodily contact actually results”. if he thought she had consented to being slapped, he did not have the intent (or substantially certain knowledge that he was about) to cause an unsanctioned/harmful (harmful here is not the dictionary def. of harmful), and even though one resulted, both parts of the rule are not satisfied.

    dumb, i know, and i had my fair share of irritation during classes this semester.

  51. J
    J December 15, 2008 at 10:05 am |

    There are two issues here. One is that because there was no tape recorder in the room, the jury doesn’t know *what* was said, and has to decide who to believe (and whether it can conclude that there’s no reasonable doubt that the other person’s version might be true). The other is that, yes, we want a legal system that requires that consent be explicit, so that drunken frat boy can’t get off rape charges by saying “gee, I thought she wanted it . . . ” But given that the jury doesn’t know what was said in this case, it wouldn’t be hard to convince them that it’s possible that whatever was said (and his version will be different from hers) incorporated enough ambiguity to create a question as to his belief. That’s a descriptive statement about how a jury would react, not a normative one about how they should.

  52. Thomas
    Thomas December 15, 2008 at 10:21 am |

    We need better people. We need a better society. This one is full of fail.

    These police mock and arrest a woman, who is a sex worker, and who was assaulted nonconsensually in the course of making her living. Why did they blame her? They’re bad people. But only in the way one would predict from a society that demonizes sex workers.

    A jury probably wouldn’t convict the assailant for hitting her in ways she did not consent to. Why? Because they won’t understant or respect the difference between what she consents to and what she doesn’t. Because they are bigoted against sex workers or because they are bigoted against BDSM or both. Either way, that’s about what one would predict.

    The criminal justice system is ultimately applied by people. Police, prosecutors, judges and juries are all people, and they come to the system with their own biases. Reforming the mechanics of the system is a limited strategy. Fundamental change has to come by changing the people.

  53. dm
    dm December 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm |

    As bad as the Deuce Bigalow asshat was, there was a far worse one:

    Privacy is relevant when we feel the individual is the best decision maker, and when subjecting their decision making process to external pressures compromises the likelihood of a good decision (primarily by increasing the probability that the considerations of others will be weighed by the decision maker). When the consequences of a private decision carry substantial consequences for the rest of the community, their privacy is both undesirable and unwarranted. In my opinion, public reprimand is a minimum level of reprimand for an individual who would otherwise have no reason to consider the effect of his/her actions on the law school’s reputation.
    I’m presently unsure whether there are substantial consequences to the school’s reputation if we are know as the school where students engage in sexual activity with university professor’s for compensation, but if such consequences exist, then the individual has harmed the law school and should not hide behind a mask of privacy to escape any culpability for her actions. Personally, I think expulsion is an appropriate remedy, but I leave that decision to the law school, because, as others have pointed out, the enforcement of punishments against a reporting sex worker decrease the likelihood of reporting. But my guess is that there aren’t too many sex workers at the law school, and so any underreporting effect would be minimal, and that any benefits from distancing the law school from this person would be substantial. In addition, the threat of expulsion may serve as an effective deterrent for people deciding to engage in this activity in the first place, which might more than compensate for underreporting by preventing the reported harms in the first place.

    This is the kind of people we deal with on a daily basis.

  54. Mickle
    Mickle December 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm |

    If she agreed (yes, it was reluctantly, i know) to allow him to hit her ass with a belt, a jury may find it believable that being slapped in the face was within the scope of consent.

    Only a stupid one that does not know the basics of anatomy that everyone – even small children – know. Or are you also going to argue that a jury would be unable to see the difference between a parent spanking a child with a belt and one who hits their child across the face?

    If the child abuse jury can think it reasonable that every parent should know the difference in risk and harm between the two acts above, then surely your hypothetical jury could safely assume that both a law professor and a law student could figure out that basic anatomy as well.

    if he thought she had consented to being slapped, he did not have the intent

    That’s only true if a “reasonable” person would think as he did in the same situation. This is where the law on paper works, but as practiced – and obviously taught – it does not.

    The question is not of “consent” vs “belief of consent” – it’s whether or not the jury can get past their prejudices long enough to realize that it should be obvious to anyone on either side of the strap that consenting to be hit in the most padded and usually least sensitive part of the body is miles away from consenting to be hit in the area that is most likely to result in permanent life-altering injury if done maliciously or even simply incorrectly.

    I’m not trying to say that bdsm is bad or that spanking children with belts is good (or even always legal, thank god). I’m just pointing out that we don’t have any trouble seeing the obvious escalation in risk and harm in other contexts. The legalities of when it’s acceptable to do either act is predicated on consent – which the child cannot give – but what the law considers reasonable in terms of implied consent is very much determined by common sense. Or…it’s supposed to be, in any case.

    The only reason why a jury would consider it reasonable for a law professor to believe that consenting to the first act implies consent to the second would be because they have distanced themselves so far from the act and the people engaging in it that either they are not thinking reasonably or they are assuming that neither party involved is capable of reason.

  55. Bloix
    Bloix December 15, 2008 at 4:57 pm |

    The sex worker admits that she consented to engage in sado-masochistic sex play. That is, she admits to consenting to behavior that, between non-consenting persons, would be an assault. Consent, however, is a defense to assault. There is no indication that the customer intended to inflict permanent injury – he did intend to inflict pain, but she had already consented to accept blows that would inflict pain.

    It’s certainly arguable that the blows to the face constitute an assault and that the consent to being struck on the buttocks did not constitute consent to being struck on the face. But once the sex worker consented to being struck anywhere on her body, the question of consent becomes difficult and in the absence of provable injury it’s not surprising that the prosecutor chose not to charge.

    PS- Mickle, she didn’t complain of “permanent, life-altering injuries.” She said she had “vision problems” which apparently had cleared up without treatment before she made her complaint. No provable injury, no medical report, nothing to show to a jury. Very tough case to prove.

  56. Lucky
    Lucky December 16, 2008 at 1:29 am |

    Earlier this year my friend reported her law school professor for sexual harassment after he left her a very perverse phone message. And when I say perverse I mean perverse…it could make a sailor blush. The professor was upset that my friend quit RAing for him after he refused to quit hitting on her and making obscene comments so I guess he thought leaving an obscene phone message and threatening to give her bad references was the appropriate response. Anyway, long story short the professor was asked to resign after an intensive investigation, and just as my friend was fearful of the professor decided to take retaliatory actions against her including filing a civil suit for false allegations. The suit is a complete farce as I witnessed the professor’s inappropriate behavior and comments firsthand. Despite the overwhelming evidence against the professor and many respected attorneys refusing to take his case, the professor decided to pursue the action himself. Thus, despite the ludicrousness of the professor’s claim my friend has to hire attorneys and defend herself in this action. Not to mention she has to go through an investigation and hearings with the state Bar (which means she has to hire yet another attorney) because the professor wrote them making his same false allegations claim. I am totally offended by this professor and his retaliatory actions against my friend, and believe it is a complete tragedy that someone like this guy can harass female students and then file claims against them once he is caught. With that being said, I have started a new grassroots non-profit organization that is committed to ending gender inequality and sexual harassment. I am tired of the “brush it under the rug” attitude and taboo associated with speaking out against sexual harassment not only for women, but for men as well, and I need your help to provide aid and support to those individuals who have taken the risk of reporting discriminating and harassing behavior. Please Join this admirable cause at

  57. Ashley
    Ashley December 16, 2008 at 2:17 pm |

    Renee, Radfem: you’re giving the police entirely too much credit; they (at least here in my hometown) won’t take ANY woman who’s been assaulted seriously, whether you were paid or not, snow-pure or not. Totally agree about their particular hatred for sex workers, though.

    “If you were assaulted, you must have been asking for it.” I was standing next to my friend, who had been assaulted at a college party, when the police told her that. I was so stunned I couldn’t react for a moment.

    Bottom line here is an assault is an assault. And assault is wrong. End of story, end of discussion. Shame, shame on Ann Arbor’s PD, the college for not booting this guy and everyone seeking to justify the actions. And the proof and conviction possibilities are not what matters most here — though they do matter. What matters is that people need to get over their stupid, anti-woman mindsets about sexual assaults. Ugh, I need a drink.

  58. sarah
    sarah December 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm |

    facebook group on the issue

  59. Sarah
    Sarah December 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    Sorry, here is the full link to the facebook group. I am a UM student so I decided to create the group. If you have facebook you should really spread it around, I hope to get students here to start emailing the University so that they’ll take action!

  60. Sailorman
    Sailorman December 17, 2008 at 10:40 am |

    I can see, fairly easily, why they didn’t charge him. Prosecutors have comparatively limited resources, and they do not generally charge cases which are extremely unlikely to win at trial. The case against the jerk,as best explained by Bloix above, is a loser at trial.

    So why did she get charged? I suspect she got charged for three reasons.

    First of all, cops hate lawyers, unless they are working in the prosecutor’s office.

    Second of all, lawyers tend to hate lawbreaking lawyers. That’s why the bar is so harsh on us.

    And third, the whole “I needed to break the law to do X” argument is a good excuse when X is “eat” and less of a good excuse when X is “attend the graduate school of my choice instead of another school.” Ann Arbor is one of the top ten law schools in the country. It is damn hard to get in and only the top (and legacy) students make it. Someone who is smart enough to get into Ann Arbor is smart enough to make good money doing something legal. Or, if they can’t afford Ann Arbor, then as someone who got admitted they are certainly able to go to law school at a lower tier school and get a free scholarship, and still be a lawyer in the end.

    So I agree that generally this situation is very problematic, but i think that this particular case may present somewhat of an exception.

  61. Guest
    Guest December 17, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  62. Guest
    Guest December 17, 2008 at 12:56 pm |

    The girl gives her side of the story:

  63. kissmypineapple
    kissmypineapple December 17, 2008 at 8:47 pm |

    This is insane! To the people who are so quick to act like she was stupid to report her prostitution when reporting the assault, many, if not most, cops will ignore the crime you were committing when someone commits a much more serious crime against you. I work for a victim assistance agency in Flagstaff, and we see this all the time. A woman is doing drugs when her boyfriend/husband decides to beat the shit out of her. She comes to us, terrified to report, b/c of what she was doing at the time, and we always tell her to report anyway, and Flag PD never cares what she was doing at the time. I can walk into the police station and declare that I was just shooting heroin, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be charged with anything.

    Secondly, jury trials are not the automatic end result of a person being charged with a crime. A whole hell of a lot happens first, and criminal cases almost always end in a plea agreement. Since this man already admitted to hitting her, it would be quite likely that a plea agreement would be reached, and he would actually serve a little bit of time, if the AAPD could be arsed to file a formal complaint.

  64. Michigan Law Student Speaks Out «

    […] Faculty, Feminism, Gender, Media, Police, Sexual Violence, Students A couple of weeks ago, this story made the rounds. A professor at the University of Michigan answered an ad on craigslist for sexual […]

  65. Holy Shit « Bound, Not Gagged
    Holy Shit « Bound, Not Gagged December 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm |

    […] woman who was charged for reporting her assault has spoken out, sending an email to law school networks and posting a comment on Above the Law. A […]

  66. Danielle
    Danielle January 7, 2009 at 10:12 am |

    OK, DID I MISS SOMETHING HERE?! ( I did just begin to follow this story.) Did this professor not get charged with ANYTHING????? Even if they could not charge him with assault, is it not also a crime for him to respond to a CL ad and pay for sexual services? Wasn’t he at least charged with the same crime as the alleged assault victim?

    Also….why is it so acceptable to charge someone with domestic violence based on a victim’s allegation, but somehow the allegation is not taken seriously in the context of a sex worker / client? This is such an obvious hypocrisy!!!

  67. RB
    RB May 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm |

    Here’s the thing to remember. Ann Arbor has never, and does not now, employ police officers with an IQ above the stapler on my desk. You can’t expect either a compassionate, or reasoned, response to most situations that A2 Police might find themselves in – the best thing is to steer clear. Because this community is so safe ( hardly any murders, for example), the A2 Police have no experience in dealing with anything serious, and will often treat the taxpaying citizenry like crap. don’t count on help from the judicial system either because the judges tend to be more in bed with police/prosecutors than anyone else.

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