Tons of stories cropping up about this right now, here’s Gawker and Gothamist. In short, a professor at Farleigh Dickinson got busted for 40 counts of promoting prostitution for running a message board for hobbyists and escorts (as an aside - wow, it really makes you realize how ridiculous the word “hobby” is as a insider term when you see it in a headline).
Though I could be wrong, it is unlikely that this is a “prostitution ring” - message boards aren’t agencies, and this man was probably not a pimp.
He’s quoted as saying that he wanted “to create a safe place for prostitutes and johns to get together.” In this case, “safe” mostly means safe from law enforcement, but it probably also means - for the johns - a safe space to to review escorts and protect themselves from being ripped off, etc. It probably wasn’t explicitly an advertising site.
This case is worrisome because of the charges of “promoting prostitution” could very well be applied to other forms of communication about the sex industry, like sex worker activism and especially sharing information about best practices, screening procedures, and the like.
This is what criminalization looks like, and its not good.