Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can undercover cops in Michigan legally have sex with prostitutes?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 10:37 AM

You might've missed this story from last year: Hawaii's legislature held a lengthy debate on whether cops in the state should legally be allowed to have sex with prostitutes. In one of his stories on the issue, writer Sam Eigling added this line: "It appears that Michigan is the only other state that permits police to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, though it’s not entirely clear given the large number of state and local jurisdictions in the nation.

This morning, at The New Republic, Eigling went into greater detail in a piece titled, "Above the Law, Under the Sheets." The story itself is a fascinating read; in it, he again mentions the case of Michigan, saying a bill is being drummed up to address the apparent exemption:

I got a crash course in the subject last spring when covering the fight in Hawaii to scrap their exemption allowing on-duty police to have sex with prostitutes. To my knowledge, Michigan is the only state in the country where that's still legally permissable. (During my reporting last year, I reached out to other Associated Press statehouse bureaus to crowd-source that determination; separately, a prostitution researcher I'd called for information came to the same finding.) Bridgette Carr, the director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, tells me the clinic is drafting language suitable for a bill on the matter, with hopes that a lawmaker will take it up this year. As Michigan's 2015 legislative session revs up, lawmakers ought to shed their ignominious distinction as the only state that allows cops to have sex with prostitutes, even if (or perhaps because) departments tend to set their own boundaries with this sort of thing.

Sure enough, under the Michigan Penal Code's section on prostitution, there's a section on the applicability of statute to police officers, which says it does "not apply to a law enforcement officer while in the performance of his duties as a law enforcement officer." A message seeking comment was left for Carr this morning.

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