Rentboy.com, the male escort site raided by federal agents on Tuesday, has always been pretty upfront about its business: Among other attributes, advertisers list their penis size, whether they top or bottom and what their hourly rates are. Hell, they named their annual awards the Hookies.
So why did the Feds wait 18 years to bust the site?
Some have pointed to the recent Ashley Madison hacks—claiming the public is newly outraged over websites that encourage immoral or illicit activities.
Others suggest closet cases in Washington, DC, are terrified they’re just one leak away from being outed—as homosexuals and johns.
That’s what Boston Globe columnist Michael A. Brodeur theorized in a tweet:
Federal officials raid Rentboy in advance of hypothetical hack of Rentboy revealing federal officials on Rentboy. #rentboy
— Michael A. Brodeur (@MBrodeur) August 25, 2015
Why was Homeland Security involved in the raid, after all? That’s what Gothamist wanted to know.
Don’t they handle terrorist threats and undocumented immigrants?
“[Homeland Security] was involved because the crime involved the internet,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Nellin McIntosh told Gothamist’s Nathan Tempey. “I don’t have an answer as to why now rather than some other time.”
But the New York Times reports Homeland Security got involved “apparently because it believed the site promoted prostitution across state and national borders.”
Still others think it was because CEO Jeffrey Hurant launched a $1,500 college scholarship last week. (The government can be sticklers about education and taxable income.)
We’re sure details will emerge as the case heads to trial. Though whether it should head to trial is open to debate as well: More people than ever think sex work should be decriminalized—that it’s a victimless crime which could actually be turned into a revenue generator, like selling marijuana.
Unfortunately not enough people think that—and not the people in power.
Until they do, society will continue to feign shock and disgust when handed proof that millions of Americans like to have sex with people they’re not married to.