52-year-old Robert Pinter is fighting
charges by the New York City police department that he solicited sex
for money at a video shop in Manhattan. And he's not alone.
Over 50 gay or bisexual men have been
arrested on prostitution charges in seven Manhattan porn shops since
2004, reports gay weekly Gay City News (www.gaycitynews.com).
Arrests that have sparked outrage in the gay community because the
profiles of the men arrested do not match what usually passes for a
hustler in New York City.
Pinter was arrested at the Blue Door
Video on First Avenue in the East Village on October 10, 2008. He
says that while in the video store he was approached for sex by a
handsome young Asian man. They agreed to have oral sex in a parked
car. On the way to the car, the man, who was an undercover police
officer, said, “Oh, I want to pay you $50 to suck your dick.”
Pinter says he was interested in the blow job, not the money, and
ignored the comment.
“This guy was half my age,” he
said. “It was my lucky day. I also though, 'How unusual, in
Manhattan, to have sex in a car.'”
Before the two arrived at the car, the
police collared him.
Pinter pleaded guilty to disorderly
conduct and paid a small fine, but became increasingly suspicious of
the charge during the health classes he was prescribed to attend.
There he met many other gay men with similar stories that did not
seem to add up.
“Generally, these are people who are
not working as prostitutes and even when they are confronted by the
undercover they may be intending to have sex, but not take any
money,” Linda Poust Lopez, an attorney who is advising five of the
The city has sued six of the video
shops where gay men have been arrested on questionable prostitution
charges. Video, Video, Video at 488 Eight Avenue at West 34th
Street was sued by the city in 2007 after 21 men were arrested
between 2004 and 2007.
After the city successfully closed the
store, the building was sold for $12.3 million and is now being
redeveloped by the Vornado Realty Trust Company.
Lawmakers have begun to express concern
over the arrests.
“I think it's very disturbing that
there has been this pattern of arrests,” openly gay New York state
Senator Thomas K. Duane told the paper. “This is harassment. No
matter how you look at this issue, the enforcement is completely,
utterly inappropriate and out of control.”
Openly lesbian New York City Council
Speaker Christine Quinn has also expressed concerns about the
arrests, reports the Gay City News.
Members of the Coalition to Stop the
Arrests, a group founded by Pinter, are planning a rally at the home
of Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is scheduled to take place today at
In a statement given to the paper, the
police department said it took action after receiving numerous public
On the Net: Gay City News has
reported extensively about the arrests www.gaycitynews.com