Crystal Sweigart, who has been charged with running a prostitution ring in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has a rather novel defense to the prostitution charges. She admits that she was giving unlicensed massages (which is a crime, itself), but says that the sexual contact that occurred afterward was merely fun between friends after work. She said, “Anything that happened when the massage stopped becomes two consenting adults having fun,” Sweigart said. “What I’m complaining about is (police) labeling it as [prostitution].”
Legally that would be a defense to the prostitution charge. However, the fact that the patrons gave her additional money when the sex acts occurred belies the fact that it was merely fun. It sounds like sexual contact in exchange for money. She admits that it’s incriminating: “Did I refuse the money? No,” Sweigart said. “Should I have or would it have looked better on me if I didn’t? Probably.” Two men have also been charged for patronizing prostitutes. Beware the happy ending…
Katie Warnack – alleged masseuse
What… that sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? Well, 2 Fort Myers women were given felony charges, along with prostitution charges, for allegedly advertising and performing illegal massages and sex acts for money. Thanks to my friend Gregory Goetz for pointing out the article in the News-Press, and for also pointing out the irony that the prostitution charges are the less-serious charges.
Maggie Warnack – alleged masseuse
That struck me as odd as well, so I looked up the statute for practicing massage without a license, Florida Statutes section 480.047. Lo and behold, that statute says it’s a 1st degree misdemeanor, not a felony. So I wondered, why does the report say they are charged with felonies? I review of their arrest pages on sheriffleefl.org confirms that they are charged with felonies. While the arrest page does not list the statute under which the sisters were charged, the shorthand seems to indicate that the felony counts are for Unlicensed Practice of a Health Care Profession, which is a felony under Florida Statutes section 465.065. It has a mandatory sentence of at least one year in jail. That’s pretty terrible for the facts: it’s treating the unlicensed masseuse the same as the unlicensed doctor! And the big problem with charging the ladies with a felony, is that the earlier statute specifically says it should be a misdemeanor. That’s good news for the Warnack sisters.
What about my initial question about back rubs. Well, the definition of massage in Florida is very broad. It is defined simply as manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body by hand or other means. Nowhere in the statute does it require an exchange of money. Under the broadest interpretation of the law, even a friendly back rub could be a criminal act. And in Lee County, the Sheriff’s Office is liable to charge you with a felony. #sexcrime