ESPLER’s Litigation Pledge Drive Canceled by GoFundMe

SAN FRANCISCO — ESPLER, the San Francisco-based sexual privacy organization that filed suit last week to overturn California’s 54-year-old prostitution statute, has found its pledge drive campaign on GoFundMe yanked.

GoFundMe, according to ESPLER, contacted the group and canceled the online campaign to help fund litigation in the case because “they had just changed their terms of use.”

ESPLER officials said that it had raised more than $520 towards a goal of $30,000 on GoFundMe.

“Not only did they cancel our campaign to raise monies to support our court case, they deleted our account altogether,” ESPLER officials said. “We want to thank all of our supporters who have reached out to us.”

Today, ESPLER’s Maxine Doogan is asking supporters to direct themselves to a new account to serve as a portal for donations to help fund the litigation efforts.

Last week, ESPLER filed suit that seeks to overturn California’s 54-year-old prostitution statute, contending that Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code violates the 1st Amendment involving free speech and freedom to associate, as well as the 14th Amendment in relation to the substantive due process right to earn a living and sexual privacy.

ESPLER's suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and was filed by two adult entertainment industry attorneys — Gill Sperlein and H. Louis Sirkin — on behalf of the group at U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

GoFundMe’s new policies over types of crowdfunding topics it accepts actually went into effect in September.

According to its site, GoFundMe prohibits sexually explicit material, sexually suggestive material, adult service or products, pornography and material relating to adult industry, among many other types of materials.

ESPLER — formally known as the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education and Research Project — also is taking contributions by mail: ESPLER Project, 2261 Market St., No. 548, San Francisco, CA 94114.