Students Seek to Compel NYPD to Release Records Related to Prostitution Arrests and Dungeon Raids

Students Seek to Compel the NYPD to Release Records Related to Prostitution Arrests and Dungeon Raids

Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, April 19, 2010—Students in the Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, working with the Urban Justice Center and the New York Civil Liberties Union, are seeking to compel  the New York Police Department to release records of prostitution arrests and a series of dungeon raids.
This follows the department’s refusal to release records in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The students have filed a demand for the records, known as an Article 78 proceeding, in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
“It is outrageous that the NYPD has refused to turn over these documents because the Freedom of Information Law was designed to provide New Yorkers with exactly this kind of publicly available information,” said Kinara Flagg, ’11, a Clinic student working on this case.
According to multiple reports, between April and September of 2008, the NYPD conducted a series of raids targeting establishments that offer sex services including bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM). During the raids, the police made multiple prostitution arrests. Afterwards, numerous BDSM businesses in New York closed.  
More recently, the Clinic has encountered repeated reports of police officers confiscating condoms and using them as evidence that the condom carrier was committing a prostitution-related crime. The filing seeks information regarding these arrests as well.
“Carrying condoms and participating in BDSM experiences are not crimes,” said Larra Morris, ’11. “New Yorkers have a right to know how prostitution laws are applied and whether their legal conduct might result in arrest.”
The Urban Justice Center filed the original information request, which is the basis for this appeal, in September 2008, seeking documents to clarify how the NYPD interprets and applies prostitution laws when making arrests. But the NYPD has repeatedly refused to comply with these requests.
“We hope and expect that the court will compel the NYPD to finally provide us with these documents,” said Erin Meyer, ’11.
The NYPD is required to file a response within 30 days.
Since January, Flagg, Meyer, and Morris have worked in conjunction with the Urban Justice Center and the New York Civil Liberties Union to clarify the application of prostitution and prostitution-related laws and advocate against the use of condoms as evidence in these crimes. The students spent the semester gathering facts and preparing for this proceeding.
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic addresses cutting edge issues in sexuality and gender law through litigation, legislation, public policy analysis and other forms of advocacy. Under the guidance of Professor Suzanne Goldberg, clinic students have worked on a wide range of projects, from constitutional litigation to legislative advocacy to immigration cases, to serve both individual and organizational clients in cases involving issues of sexuality and gender law.
For more information, please visit: To contact Goldberg: call (212) 854- 0411 or email [email protected].
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Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.