Dog Days Turn Deadly in America’s Prisons

By James Ridgeway | Tue September 1, 2009 4:27 AM PST

The summer of 2009 hadn’t even begun when Marcia Powell, a 48-year old inmate at Arizona’s Perryville Prison, was baked to death. Powell, whom court records show had a history of schizophrenia, substance abuse, and mild mental retardation, was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution. At about 11 a.m. on May 19, a day when the Arizona sun had driven the temperature to 108 degrees, she was parked outdoors in an unroofed, wire-fenced holding cell while awaiting transfer to another part of the prison. A deputy warden and two guards had been stationed in a control center 20 yards away, but nearly four hours had passed when she was found collapsed on the floor of the human cage. Doctors at a local hospital pronounced Powell comatose from heat stroke, and she died later that night after being taken off life support. Two local churches stepped in to provide a proper funeral and burial.

Arizona Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan said the guards had been suspended pending a criminal investigation. But just yesterday, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner ruled the death an accident, caused by “complications of hyperthermia due to environmental heat exposure.” This despite the fact that Powell had blistering and first and second degree “thermal injuries” on face, arms, and upper body. Continue reading


US Navy officer Timothy Davis found not guilty of raping prostitute in Sydney brothel

November 23, 2009 4:26PM

A US sailor cleared today of raping a prostitute in a Sydney brothel is “looking forward” to returning to California.

While Petty Officer Timothy Davis had admitted using a “lockdown manoeuvre” to pin the woman to the bed, he denied forcing himself on her, saying he had only wanted his money back.

The 25-year-old had pleaded not guilty to having sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated by causing the woman actual bodily harm. Continue reading

A Few Questions for Belle de Jour, Call Girl and Scientist

November 20, 2009, 1:30 pm

In 2003, a young American woman in London studying for her PhD. ran into money trouble. To support herself while writing her thesis, she joined an escort service. Under the assumed name Belle de Jour, she started to blog her experiences. That blog led to a series of successful, jaunty memoirs beginning with 2005’s The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. The books were adapted for television in the U.K. (where she is portrayed by Billie Piper) and later in the U.S. All the while, as Belle de Jour garnered more attention — and criticism, for portraying prostitution as a glamorous career choice — the woman behind Belle de Jour struggled to keep her anonymity. This month, as an ex-boyfriend threatened to blow her cover, Belle approached one of her critics, the London journalist India Knight of the Sunday Times, to reveal her identity. That resulted in an article, published Nov. 15, outing her as Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 34, a neurotoxicologist at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. This week, she agreed to answer a few questions for the Freakonomics blog, about her work as a call girl and as a scientist. Continue reading

Prostitution Now Outlawed In R.I., But Is That Good?

by Ian Donnis
November 15, 2009 from WRNI

Until earlier this month, Rhode Island was the only place in the country where prostitution was legal across an entire state — because of an unintended loophole in the law. But the move to close that loophole is fueling concerns that victims of the sex trade are being put at even more risk.

Back in 1980, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law meant to speed the prosecution of streetwalkers. But in the process, legislators unwittingly decriminalized prostitution that took place indoors. This loophole didn’t attract much notice for years.

Then, in 2003, a court case made it clear that prostitutes were free from prosecution if their sex trade occurred behind closed doors. The result has been a growing number of so-called Asian spas that critics say are thinly veiled brothels. Continue reading

Brooke Phillips, HBO “Cathouse” Brothel Star, and Unborn Child, Shot Dead Before Arson

Brooke Phillips

Brooke Phillips (AP Photo/Dennis Hof)

November 17, 2009 7:00 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (CBS/AP) Brooke Phillips, a pregnant Nevada brothel worker who appeared in an HBO reality series “Cathouse,” and another 22-year-old mom-to-be, had been fatally shot before firefighters discovered their bodies in a burning Oklahoma City home, investigators said last Friday.

Oklahoma City Police Department spokesman Sgt. Gary Knight said Nov. 13 the Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Brooke Phillips and Milagrous Barrera — both 22 years old and pregnant — had died of gunshot wounds.

The women were among four victims found in a Nov. 9 blaze. A man and another woman have yet to be identified. Authorities say the fire was deliberately set and are treating the case as a homicide. Continue reading

Sex and Soccer: The World Cup vice trade

October 16, 2009 — Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
By Chris Murphy

(CNN) — The beginning of the World Cup in South Africa next June kicks-off a festival of football on the pitch, but there are a wealth of issues for the host country to tackle off the field too.

Up to half-a-million fans are expected to visit for the tournament and a string of sparkling new stadiums and hotels have sprung up to accommodate them.

But that influx of supporters also brings with it a danger of an explosion in the sex trade and the threat of increased trafficking to service demand.

A similar flood of vice business was forecast leading up to the previous World Cup, in Germany in 2006, especially as prostitution had been legalized in the country. Continue reading

Missing woman’s remains positively identified in Death Valley

November 06, 2009 3:37 PM
By JESSICA CEJNAR, staff writer

Human remains that were found in Death Valley National Park about a year and a half ago were positively identified recently as belonging to a woman who was last seen in Barstow in 2003.

The Inyo County Coroner’s office positively determined that the remains belonged to Catherine Lique 10 days ago, said Jeff Mullenhour, deputy coroner for the southern region of Inyo County. Lique’s next of kin, daughter Stephanie Thompson, was notified three days ago, he said. At this time the cause of Lique’s death is still being investigated.

Lique was 44 when she disappeared. Continue reading