[The following is a Guest View. As such, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of the Frank Report.]
This is in response to the article The Sisters Who First Tried to Take Down Jeffrey Epstein, where it was written, “Both Epstein and Pimp Maxwell allegedly engaged in sexual relations with Maria Farmer.”
Maria Farmer was 25 years old at the time. She was an adult, so there’s nothing improper about this.
Now, Epstein was a grade-A asshole in my opinion and I have no doubt that he did many illegal and highly unethical things, but this was not one of them.
Apparently, he paid her $6k for one of her paintings, which was half the asking price but still probably far more than what the frightful daubing was worth.
Part of the deal was he would promote her work and he also took her on as one of his staff. It all seems a little sordid to me, but she was an adult at the time and if she wanted to make some kind of deal with the old fart, that’s her business.
Let’s be clear: Life is not a tale of pure good and evil, of victims and oppressors, of the good and the bad.
One of the reasons assholes like Epstein and Weinstein can surround themselves with young beautiful actresses, aspiring models and painters is that these young ladies are perfectly aware of their market value.
Somebody like Epstein walks into a room and takes an interest in them and they see an advantage to be had.
RE: The Weinstein affair and the #MeToo movement it inspired, French actress Catherine Deneuve had an interesting response.
She is somebody who knows a thing or two about making it in film from back in the bad old days, and in France yet.
She had many an improper advance to fend off as a young beautiful actress, and yet she had little sympathy for the phony innocent act of #MeToo Hollywood.
She was one of 100 French women in academia and the arts who questioned this rising narrative of women as victim.
One of the major issues with it is its tendency to treat women like helpless children who have no agency.
Maria Farmer is being treated here as if she were a child, as if having sex with her was perverted, if not criminal. As if she was a child who was violated. As if at 25 years of age, she didn’t know the score, as if she couldn’t be expected to understand what Epstein was after. He was paying her for sex.
This is where the Epstein and Weinstein sagas get complicated.
Young aspiring actresses took meetings with Weinstein knowing the man’s character. He was a pig. There’s no excusing what he did and I make no attempt to excuse it.
But these aspiring actresses wanted something from him, and many were willing to pay the price.
That they now expect to be treated as purely innocent victims is a bit thick.
Catherine Deneuve has called them on their bullshit. And has been vilified for it.
Raniere and his NXIVM cult and even DOS were similarly complicated.
The difference with him was the collateral. Another word for blackmail.
His women were – largely – coerced. Even there, though, it’s undeniable that most of them were at least partially willing. And that’s where it gets complicated. Life generally is.
Sex trafficking laws were originally intended, like the human trafficking laws that preceded them, to apply to foreign women smuggled across borders who were held in virtual captivity and forced to work, or provide sex, without pay.
Sex trafficking law carries a very low standard of proof, which was probably originally seen as a good thing. But it is being applied expansively now, and in a way that may begin to make civil libertarians uneasy.
I’m glad Raniere is in prison, he richly deserves it.
But he belongs in prison mainly for defrauding people with his worthless “tech”, for running a cult.
The reason he’s in prison though is because of the scandal of DOS and branding women. Even though those women all kinda sorta were devoted to him, and all were kinda sorta willing to be branded.
What I’m afraid of is all this current moral panic getting out of control.
Sex is already being seen as something dirty, as something exploitative, as something men do to women, a form of victimization.
It’s a return to Puritanism.
Editor’s Note: Actaeon has raised some interesting points – especially with respect to the expanded use of sex trafficking laws to go after people like Raniere and R. Kelly.
As noted in an earlier posting, this is a relatively new addition to the prosecutorial playbook – but one that is likely to see increased usage in the future. Especially when it’s combined with the use of RICO statutes.
Sex trafficking convictions ensure that those who are found guilty will serve at least 15 years in prison.
And the RICO statute allows prosecutors to present evidence of crimes that would not be prosecutable by themselves because of statute-of-limitations issues or other bars.
Do you support these types of prosecutions – or, like Actaeon, do you see them as going too far?