SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI seizures of MyRedbook.com and SFRedbook.com could put more than 10,000 sex workers who relied on the sites in financial turbulence, says a leading authority on erotic service providers.
Maxine Doogan, who leads the nonprofit ESPLER — known formally as the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project — said that MyRedBook, in particular, had more than 40,000 listings for erotic services when it was seized by the FBI and IRS.
"Considering that figure along with duplicate entries, there were more than 10,000 workers who had postings on the site that have been affected by the closure," Doogan told XBIZ. "New sexual service providers are the most affected because they have never advertised anywhere but online. People are really unaware how devastating this is to them."
Doogan, a veteran of the erotic service industry, said that she could recall another incident several years ago that reminded her of the seizures and the glum aftermath for providers.
"It took more than a year for East Coast service providers to recover after Escorts.com was seized by the FBI," she said.
In 2011, the operators of Escorts.com — National A-1 Advertising Inc. and R.S. Duffy Inc. — agreed to plead guilty to money laundering conspiracy.
As a result, the Philadelphia companies agreed to forfeit nearly $5 million and pay a $1.5 million fine. The companies also forfeited the domain name Escorts.com, which they had operated for four years. It was the first successful prosecution against an online escort site.
As for the MyRedBook case, Doogan said that the rights for Eric Omuro and Annmarie Lanoce, the owners of the site charged with using the Internet to facilitate prostitution and money laundering, are being trampled.
"Their case is about protected free speech," she said. "We need the entire sex industry to help. The opposition has an agenda, and we need the entire industry, including the adult film industry, to coalesce.
"Everyone in this industry has a target on their head, and now they are exporting their ideas to other countries, shutting down red-light districts and getting federal agencies involved into their own version of compliance."
Doogan and her group ESPLER are currently fighting California's criminal code on prostitution laws through the "Litigate to Emancipate" fund that can be accessed here.