By Attorney David Engler
Two stories from this week’s pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
13 arrested in prostitution raid at Philly Mummers club
One night a month, police say, the inside of the modest Mummers’ Downtowners Fancy Brigade clubhouse in South Philadelphia transformed into a bacchanalian free-for-all where dozens of men ate, drank, and had sex with prostitutes in full view of each other.
For a $30 cover charge, attendees got one free beer from the cash bar, food, and access to the women at the party. The women, police said, walked around scantily clad or naked, charging from $30 to $100 for sex.
This past week, the festivities came to an abrupt end when police officers swarmed the two-story building near Second Street and Snyder Avenue.
About 50 men and 10 ‘working’ women were inside……
Police find four adults chained in Northeast Philadelphia apartment
Three people were arrested and charged with kidnapping, assault and other crimes after Philadelphia police found four mentally handicapped adults shackled in “deplorable conditions” in a basement storage closet of a Northeast apartment building Saturday.
The three men and a woman were found by a janitor chained to a water heater, in a 15-by-15-foot room, locked behind a steel door. All were malnourished, said a police spokeswoman.
The female victim is 29, the men 31, 35 and 41; each has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, police said.
Police said the room included buckets for urine and feces……
Here in the “City of Brotherly Love”, not twenty minutes from each other, in tough pockets of Philadelphia, four mentally disabled forty-something adults were being held in a chained room as a paid sex party was happening not too many blocks away at a Mummers Club.
The Mummers Club puts on an annual New Year’s Parade each year and dates back to the days of Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia. The MUMMERS Club said they did not know about a sex party and were only renting it out once per month to help the not-for-profit.
The four disabled adults were found alone in an apartment building nearby. It was in the basement of a building in a semi-industrial section of town. You would drive by and wonder if anybody actually lives there. They were wards of someone. Their social security money funded this “care”. It was a group home of sorts. Each of the four was malnourished and taken to a hospital. No one took responsibility.
The fifty men present paid $30 to get into the party which included a free beer ticket and access to the women. It was a wide open sex party. The women would then negotiate an extra charge for sex with men at the party. The women were busted for prostitution and the two bartenders who were club officials as well, and managed the monthly brothel were charged with criminal conspiracy. The Johns were let go since the police did not know if compensation was exchanged before the sex. The women apparently approached the undercover cops to negotiate.
The disabled adults were used for their benefit money. They will be on record with some court or social security as being wards of someone or some agency. The conduct was criminal. But there is also criminal conduct in the gross negligence of a guardian or agency charged with making sure disabled adults are not abused. They all had the mentality of 10 year olds. No one has yet to be charged.
Same night and it was the same story. Men are pimping out vulnerable addicted women for quick cash. A sleazy “group home” is pimping out the weakest among us for some quick cash. Both of these dirty secrets were taking place at the same time, in the same City. The celebrated Mummers Club claimed not to know anything about a group that had monthly pay-for-sex orgies at their building. The local government and courts knew nothing about tax dollars supposedly used for the humane care of people being misspent and the people becoming prisoners in filth.
We have a special responsibility to protect these wards, if we are in a position to know. It goes beyond the bewilderment we all sense when driving though a bad section of town and worrying if anyone cares. It is not enough to claim ignorance of what happens in a building you own when you are collecting rent as a social hall. It is also wrong to ignore where your ward is living if you are the guardian. We all rely in good faith that others feel a sense of accountability for the way they make money. It did not happen that way on an early fall day in Philly. If a social club looks the other way while sex is sold or a court or government responsible for paying benefits to a “caretaker” turned torturer never asks questions, then the bond between us in society is broken.
The whole idea of this City was one of ‘brotherly love’. There is no greater love than treating a stranger as your brother. It is the Golden Rule. Those in a position to know, allowed gold to rule them and allowed the weakest of our brothers and sisters to be exploited and abused. That’s a criminal shame.