A Wisconsin woman looking to move to New York found herself living a nightmare after a man who lured her to Brooklyn through Craigslist with the promise of rent-free digs allegedly subjected her to more than a week of sexual torture.
The victim, 27, e-mailed John Hopkins, 45, about his Web ad, which said he had a room in his East Williamsburg apartment, police sources said.
After telling her she could stay for free if she cooked and cleaned, Hopkins paid for her plane ticket and picked her up at Kennedy Airport on Feb. 4, according to the sources.
As soon as they arrived at his place on Humboldt Street, Hopkins allegedly told the woman that she was to be his slave. He then allegedly blindfolded and gagged her, handcuffed her to a radiator, and began beating and raping her.
For the next eight days, Hopkins allegedly kept the woman chained in his apartment, but then allowed her to leave for a job she had landed at a Manhattan restaurant.
Bizarrely, the woman did not call 911 while she was away from her alleged tormentor. But last Saturday, she contacted her mother, who alerted the NYPD. When cops arrived, they found her shaking on Hopkins' bed. She was treated at Woodhull Hospital.
Hopkins was hit with charges including rape, assault and unlawful imprisonment.
Will Rockwell - $pread Magazine,
Audacia Ray - Sex Work Awareness (SWA),
Susan Blake - Prostitutes of New York (PONY),
Michael Bottoms - Sex Workers Outreach Project - New York City (SWOP-NYC),
With Craigslist’s recent announcement that its Erotic Services category will be discontinued within the week, hundreds of thousands of erotic service providers will become more vulnerable to dangerous predators. Eliminating erotic listings as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and others propose will only drive us further underground.
Policing the masseuses, phone workers, pro-dominants, and escorts using Craigslist fails to protect those of us who are coerced into the sex industry. Preventing the use of Craigslist advertisements also eliminates the advantage of screening clients online, which makes for a safer work experience by filtering out potentially dangerous individuals. Furthermore, keeping us offline hinders police investigations of violent crime. In the Boston murder of Julissa Brisman, it was online tracking that enabled the police to identify the suspect. One has to wonder: are the Attorneys General examining the evidence or simply enforcing their moral values?
“Removing the erotic services category from Craigslist does not help prevent violence against escorts and other sex workers. It only pushes me and people like me out of the places where advertising is available,” said Jessica Bloom, a sex worker from Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK). In the face of increasing criminalization, we insist upon respect. As mothers, daughters, brothers, and members of your community, we claim that sex work is real work, work that we are entitled to conduct in safety. As such, we must be accorded the human right of full protection under the law.
**EDIT** an addendum. I just typed this up in response to a Facebook friend asking what he could do to help. Here are some suggestions:
You can totally help, mostly by speaking up and jumping into the fray!
Legislation about consensual adult sex work (not trafficking, coercion, or child prostitution) mostly happens on the state level - since you’re in NY, you can find your assembly person here: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ - write to him or her and tell them how you feel about the risks created and perpetuated by continued criminalizing of sex work and cracking down on advertising
Write letters to the editor of newspapers that publish misguided pieces about how the elimination of craigslist erotic services will “help” women
Comment on blog posts and online articles (if you’ve got the stomach for it!)