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The Supreme Court will delve into the sadomasochism world in early 2010 as it looks into the case of a sex trafficker, known as the “S&M Svengali”, whose criminal conviction had been set aside. The justices agreed to accept the government’s appeal of a case involving Glenn Marcus, who had been sentenced to nine years in prison for the sexual abuse, physical mutilation and psychological humiliation of a woman who had agreed to be photographed as his “sex slave“. Glenn Marcus was convicted of sex trafficking in 2001. It’s a case that has potential ramifications for trafficking victims everywhere.

Marcus had a BDSM-themed website in the late 1990s which featured photos of women who were his “slaves” undergoing various levels of physical abuse. He met a woman who court documents just call “Jodi”, and she agreed to be on the website. At this point, two stories diverge. Jodi claims Marcus took the relationship too far — that he forced her to do things she didn’t want to do and then write about them for the site. She couldn’t escape, and was effectively a slave in real life, although she started out only portraying one on a website. Marcus, on the other hand, claims that everything was consensual and part of Jodi’s employment contract. Apparently, even the parts where he carved the word “slave” into her stomach with a knife, shaved her head, and whipped her brutally were part of her contract.

At issue was whether Marcus took the relationship too far and held Jodi against her wishes. Prosecutors claim he manipulated and forced the woman to undergo the punishment, then write about it for the Web site. The incidents took place at various locations between 1999 and 2001. Attorneys for Marcus said the relationship was consensual, even enjoyable, and that Jodi had signed an employment contract and was provided for through the for-profit Web site, which had paying members and advertising. They also said that while the public may find the details unsettling, it was done in the privacy of homes.

The woman testified she felt like a prisoner and she could not escape her situation. Her head was shaved and the word “slave” was written on her stomach by Marcus with a knife. She claimed she was whipped regularly, hung by her arms from posts, and subjected to a range of humiliating poses. The appellate court concluded that Jodi never benefited financially, since Marcus had kept profits from the Web site. Other women along the East Coast also were involved in Marcus’ master-slave business.

The BDSM connection will only confuse the understanding of sex trafficking. Human trafficking and BDSM are not really connected. Sex trafficking is not about the sort of activities which take place between the victim and perpetrator, but rather the victim’s consent to the situation and ability to get out of it. The presence of S&M will bring the court’s focus on the wrong set of issues. It is dangerous to set a wrong legal precedent in this case.

One Response to Supreme Court And BDSM – Possibility Of Wrong Precedent

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  • Mike says:

    I dated Jodi after she had finally gotten away from Glenn. The interesting thing was that the only thing that she wanted was to have him remove all pictures of her from the site because she had desired to get back into teaching and didn’t want those pictures online of her to possibly cause a problem. Glenn refused, which is why she brought the case. He got what he deserved.

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