A federal grand jury in Brooklyn has indicted the head of the Rentboy.com gay-escort advertising site, but not six workers who were charged with him last year.
The indictment released Wednesday charged Rentboy.com CEO Jeffrey Hurant with promoting prostitution and two counts of money-laundering, repeating allegations that the site grossed $10 million over five years by facilitating gay sex for pay.
Charges last August had triggered questions and criticism of federal authorities for targeting consensual gay sex, and the decision to not indict six employees who were originally accused indicated a possible rethinking of the case.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Robert Capers in Brooklyn said the original criminal complaint against the six Rentboy employees is still pending, but defense lawyers for two of them said a non-prosecution agreement is under discussion with the government.
“We’re hopeful after extensive presentations made to the U.S. attorney’s office that they will agree to a non-prosecution agreement,” said James Roth, the lawyer for defendant Clint Calero. Roth said nothing has been signed.
Capers spokeswoman Nellin McIntosh declined to comment on non-prosecution agreements.
The indictment of Hurant, 50, of New York City, along with allegations that his site allowed escorts to advertise sexual services, also said he gave discounts to escort agencies that were sometimes referred to internally as “pimps.”
It said one of the agencies Rentboy took ads from was run by three Miami area men who have been indicted on a charge of racketeering and sex trafficking for allegedly “luring” Hungarian men into the United States and “forcing them into sexual slavery.”
The company, the government alleged, did not consistently take steps to make sure that underage boys were not advertising by requiring age verification, and accepted free ads from escorts working in Asia without any age verification at all.
“The government’s charges are unwarranted,” Hurant’s defense lawyers said in a statement. “Mr. Hurant ran his business openly for nearly 20 years, and it makes no sense to single him out for criminal prosecution.”