Tuesday, July 29, 2014

People v. Leonard (Cal. Ct. App. - July 29, 2014)

At first glance, this just looks like your typical conviction for pandering.  Typical (depressing) facts, typical (depressive) life of the relevant prostitute, typical (exploitative) conduct by the pimp.  A typical relationship that began this way:

"In 2011, Leonard approached Cynthia Jordan along El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego. Jordan was working as a prostitute at the time, and she thought Leonard might be a potential client. After speaking with him, however, Jordan understood that Leonard was interested in becoming her pimp. Jordan told Leonard her life had been difficult lately, and Leonard offered her protection. Leonard said he could provide Jordan with a place to live and food to eat if Jordan continued to work as a prostitute and gave her earnings to Leonard. Jordan soon gave Leonard a $100 'choosing fee,' symbolizing her choice of Leonard as her pimp, and moved into Leonard's apartment the next day."

You see this all the time.  The prostitute needs protection.  The pimp provides it.  Then you routinely see stuff like this:

"Leonard controlled Jordan's activities. Leonard told Jordan how to speak to potential clients, how much to charge, when to demand payment, and how to avoid contact with other pimps. Leonard and Walser [Leonard's friend] supplied Jordan with methamphetamines to feed her severe drug addiction. Jordan worked out of the apartment and in hotel rooms. Leonard eventually rented the apartment next door to use for prostitution. Leonard often drove Jordan to out calls, and he waited nearby to make sure Jordan turned the payments over to him immediately afterwards. Walser, and sometimes other men, rode along with Leonard for protection."

There's a stable.  Another prostitute named Hanson.  With whom you see more of the typical stuff:

"If Hanson did not have a client's payment for Leonard, or if Hanson spoke in a way that upset Leonard, he would order Walser to beat her. Leonard would say, 'beat that bitch,' and Walser would do so. After Hanson became pregnant, she stood up to Leonard more often. She did not want to continue working so many hours as a prostitute. Leonard responded that 'his other baby's mother . . . was out there working the blade until she was ready to pop,' and the beatings increased in severity. In one instance, Hanson and Jordan got into an argument. To punish Hanson, Walser punched her. Hanson suffered a cracked tooth, a dislocated jaw, and a broken lip from Walser's beating. Hanson also beat and cut herself.

Eventually, Hanson left Leonard. She returned to El Cajon Boulevard to work the streets. One night, Leonard pulled up beside her in his Cadillac. Walser was in the car as well. Walser grabbed Hanson and threw her into Leonard's Cadillac. They drove to Leonard's apartment, where Walser led Hanson to Leonard's bedroom. Leonard told Hanson she should not have left and she needed to return to Leonard. Leonard instructed Walser to beat Hanson, and he complied. Walser kicked Hanson in the stomach, back, legs, and face. Leonard kicked Hanson in the face as well. Leonard confined Hanson to the bedroom until Hanson agreed to work for him again. When Leonard released her, she returned to the streets and sought out her new pimp, Kevin Smith. Hanson soon started bleeding profusely as a result of the beating. Smith drove her to a hospital emergency room, where she suffered a miscarriage."

All of this is worth mention.  Not because it's unusual.  But because it's nonetheless important to know the next time you might think that sex work is no big deal because it's performed between consenting adults.  There's a real underbelly here.  Not a pretty one.

But I mention this case for a different reason as well.

Picture in your mind the defendant, Leonard.  The big bad pimp.  Imagine what he looks like as he goes about his daily routine and interacts with his prostitutes.  Providing them "protection" and harming them in all the ways described above.  Got the picture in your head yet?

No, I'm not going to ask you what race he is.  I'm instead going to ask if the picture in your head is consistent with this description of Leonard's life:

"Because Leonard has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, Walser assisted Leonard with certain daily activities. Walser's duties included bathing and dressing Leonard, lifting Leonard into and out of his wheelchair, and placing Leonard in his car."

Not what you were thinking, huh?