For Immediate Release
In August and September of 2014, the Community United for Safety and Protection spent several arduous weeks reporting a man who was threatening and attempting to extort sex workers in Fairbanks to the Anchorage Police Department, the Fairbanks Police Department, the State Troopers, the Alaska Bureau of Investigations, the former governor’s Choose Respect coordinator, and the Office of Special Prosecutions. (Read more about that, including email transcripts, here: http://www.vice.com/read/alaska-declares-open-season-on-sex-workers-922) After some media attention and meetings with Parnell’s office, the State Trooper’s Special Crimes Investigative Unit obtained search warrants and found the perpetrator, Jase Connors. Connors, who has previously blogged about a girlfriend breaking up with him over his abusive behavior and the life or death religious war he is engaged in (http://firefighterjase.blogspot.com/), is said to have expressed hatred and more threats toward women in the sex industry to police.
Connors was charged with felony attempted extortion, felony impersonating a police officer, and misdemeanor impersonating another person in a grand jury indictment. Last week the prosecutor, who has previously referred to sex workers as pieces of meat (https://twitter.com/THEecowhore/status/633384945411448832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw), and Connors reached a plea agreement: 30 days in jail.
“If the victim was anybody other than a sex worker he would have gotten more time,” said Cindy, a local sex worker. “They had to do something to show they were trying to stop the situation, but because the victim was a sex worker they did the very minimum they had to do. Sex workers are seen as less than people. I think you get more time for abusing an animal.”
“I am outraged by the reporting and I’m outraged by the statements made by the defendants attorney,” said Maxine Doogan. “I’m outraged by the state’s actions to plea him down to the lowest possible sentence and essentially the special prosecutor agreeing with the defense’s claim that she was a valid target for him. He was convicted of a crime against the state instead of a crime against a person.”
In a classic example of Alaska’s rape culture, the News Miner mentioned the victim’s profession five times in their eight sentence article and actually suggested that the perpetrator had good intentions when he was impersonating a police officer to threaten and extort local women. Previously the News Miner has chosen to publish the names of women charged with prostitution but withhold the names of men charged with prostitution.
“I was reading it and I was like, if the victim was a nurse would they have to say that so many times? Is that to take away from what happened? To make the victim less than? What was the point of that? If something happened to a woman and she wanted to report a crime she would be less likely to do so [after seeing the article] because she wouldn’t want to be villainized in the paper and the public eye. Who wants to go through that? This is the problem,” said Cindy.
“It’s not only about when someone from the sex work community comes forward to report being a victim,” said Maxine Doogan, “it’s about what all people who are sexually assaulted and raped go through when considering reporting to the police they’ve been a victim is being called a whore by the press, by defendants, and then the public who’s representative agrees to the lower punishment because our lives our not valued as much.”
This treatment of Alaskan victims of any type is unacceptable. CUSP invites all Alaskans to join us in setting a new standard by calling for accountability of the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Public Safety.
The Community United for Safety and Protection is a group of current and former Alaskan sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and allies working towards safety and protection for all people in Alaska’s sex trade. CUSP members are currently in Juneau lobbying to criminalize police sexual misconduct and amend the sex trafficking law.