Metro Weekly

Former Rentboy CEO sentenced to 6 months in prison

Prosecutors asked for jail time to send a message to the owners and operators of other escort sites

Landing page of - via
Landing page of – via

The former CEO of online escort site has been sentenced to six months in prison after the judge overseeing the case said she wanted to send a message to owners of similar sites that online prostitution will not be tolerated.

Jeffrey Hurant had previously pled guilty to promoting prostitution on his website, which was billed as the largest site for male escorts in the world. Even as he was being sentenced, he defended his actions, saying his site allowed sex workers to avoid some of the dangers typically associated with sex work.

Yet despite acknowledging the “good” the site did on behalf of sex workers, U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie noted that prostitution was still illegal. In addition to the prison sentence, she also fined Hurant $7,500, saying: “Almost two decades of committing a crime. That can’t go unpunished.”

Hurant and six of his staffers were arrested in August 2015 after federal agents raided the company’s headquarters. They were charged with conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution across state lines. The charges were eventually dropped against the other employees.

According to NBC New York, prosecutors had sought some sort of a prison term for Hurant to deter other escort services from similar conduct. 

Lawmakers, civil rights organizations, and LGBTQ advocates warned that handing down a tough sentence would send the wrong message to the LGBTQ community. Following the Rentboy raid, many noted that federal authorities chose to go after a gay website instead of a number of sites oriented towards heterosexuals, with some advocates even accusing authorities of singling out the LGBTQ community for punishment. 

New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said in one of those letters to the court that the case “harkens back to a dark chapter in our nation’s history when the government used its vast resources to target and threaten LGBT adults by exposing their private consensual sexual activity.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!