A website operated by a former University of New Mexico president and a part-time Santa Fe resident that authorities say was used for prostitution is legal, a state district judge has ruled…The decision highlights the difficulties that prosecutors face in using decades-old laws to combat a modern phenomenon.
The ruling comes as prosecutors were scheduled to present to a grand jury their case against former UNM President F. Chris Garcia, who is accused of helping oversee a prostitution website called Southwest Companions.
State District Judge Stan Whitaker ruled that the website, an online message board and Garcia’s computer account did not constitute a “house of prostitution”…Whitaker also said the website wasn’t “a place where prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed.”
The ruling means that prosecutors will now have to decide how to proceed with a case involving Garcia, retired Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor David C. Flory and others…
Garcia’s attorney, Robert Gorence, said Garcia was satisfied with the judge’s decision and felt vindicated. A woman who answered the phone at Flory’s Santa Fe residence said he had no comment.
Investigators said the prostitution ring had a membership of 14,000, including 200 prostitutes. Members paid anywhere from $200 for a sex act to $1,000 for a full hour. Prostitutes were paid with cash, not through the website…
For example, Cunningham said, Craigslist withstood lawsuits and challenges by law-enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices to shut down its erotic services section and only closed them later for publicity reason…
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Drebing…said no decisions have been made about how prosecutors intend to move forward with their case.
Legalizing the sex trade hasn’t occurred to anyone, yet. Probably, there will be one or two brave souls who will suggest tiptoeing into the 21st Century – if and when this comes up before the Roundhouse, our state legislature. They will need body armor.
Like most states with a significant “religious” population, New Mexico is big on moralizing. Doesn’t affect crime rates in the least.