May 23, 2007 4:25 AM PDT

Police Blotter: Bondage Webmaster fights abuse conviction

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Police Blotter is a weekly News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Bondage Webmaster is convicted of "forced labor" and "sex trafficking" for his sadistic sexual encounters with one of his so-called slaves.

When: U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross rules on May 17.

Outcome: Conviction remains intact.

What happened, according to court documents:
Glenn Marcus' SlaveSpace.com relied on a novel business model: Finding sex slaves on the Internet, tying them up, whipping them and posting photographs of the process online. Membership to SlaveSpace.com started at $20 for 30 days of access.

Sometime in 1998, a woman named Jodi (referred to in court documents by her first name only) started hunting for information about what's known as BDSM--bondage, dominance/discipline, submission/sadism and masochism--and found Marcus in an AOL chat room. He went by the screen name "GMYourGod" and demanded absolute obedience.

Later that year, Jodi traveled to Maryland to meet Marcus and a fellow sex slave named Joanna. He whipped Jodi, with her consent, and carved the word "slave" on her stomach with a knife. The next month, she sent a petition to Marcus saying in part: "I am begging to serve you Sir, completely, with no limitations."

In January 1999, Jodi moved to Maryland to live with Joanna, and Marcus would regularly visit them from his home on Long Island. Occasionally the BDSM-and-sex sessions became severe: Marcus once burned Jodi with cigarettes all over her body. He put a whiffle ball inside her mouth and tried to sew her lips shut with surgical needles. Other encounters cannot be fully described in a mainstream publication.

Many of these incidents were photographed and uploaded to SlaveSpace.com, which Jodi spent much of her time updating, including writing diaries for the site. She referred to herself as "pooch" or "poochie" and wrote lengthy, rambling essays saying things like: "i need to serve Him, to please Him. i not only want to, i need to. i feel this so deeply, every single part of me feels this."

At some point around August 2001, they became estranged, but, according to Jodi, she felt unable to escape the relationship because she was afraid of Marcus. She later acknowledged staying in contact with him through 2003, even going camping with him.

After Marcus would not remove the photos from the Internet (he claimed to have a valid model release), Jodi contacted the FBI. Federal prosecutors charged Marcus with sex trafficking, forced labor and dissemination of obscene materials through an interactive computer service.

For the jury, consent was key: Did Jodi agree to the sadistic activities at the time, in which case Marcus would be not guilty as charged? A Village Voice article says: "It's possible that she regretted her participation and re-wrote her role into an unwilling victim, but it's equally likely that Marcus lost touch with reality, believed he actually owned her, and behaved accordingly."

On March 5, Marcus was found guilty of sex trafficking and forced labor but not guilty of distributing obscene materials. His attorneys responded by filing a motion asking for a new trial or acquittal on technical grounds, including that the sex-trafficking law was not meant to apply to consensual BDSM activities.

U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross denied the request. Marcus, 53, is free until sentencing, at which point he could face anywhere from 30 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

Excerpts from Judge Ross's opinion:
The defendant asks the court to set aside his convictions... contending that (1) the rule of lenity requires that the sex trafficking and forced labor statutes be construed narrowly and, therefore, are inapplicable to the conduct at issue; (2) the sex trafficking statute does not apply when the victim is coerced into pornography as opposed to prostitution; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to show a nexus between the defendant's conduct and the commercial sex act element of the sex trafficking statute or the labor or services element of the forced labor statute...

The defendant makes two principal arguments as to why the court should find that these statutes are ambiguous such that the court should invoke the rule of lenity and set aside his convictions. First, the defendant contends that the (sex trafficking law) should not apply to "intimate, domestic relationship(s)" like the one at issue here. Second, the defendant argues that the application of the sex trafficking and forced labor statutes to BDSM activities renders the statutory language ambiguous. For the reasons stated below, the court finds both arguments to be without merit...

Finally, the court is not convinced that a manifest injustice would result in the absence of a new trial. The defendant makes a valiant attempt to depict his conduct as, at worst, domestic violence and to paint any commercial aspects as merely incidental to what was really an intimate relationship.

However, such a characterization vastly understates the role that the defendant's Web site appeared to play in his relationship with Jodi. Jodi testified about a wide variety of intimate conduct between her, the defendant, and other women that was photographed and displayed, for a fee, on the defendant's Web site. Moreover, based on her testimony, she was forced to describe this conduct--in minute detail--for posting on the Web site, and she was also made to spend eight or more hours a day updating the Web site and clicking on banner advertisements. Meanwhile, according to Jodi, the defendant monitored her work daily, punished her when her performance was not up to par and collected all of the proceeds of her labor on the Web site.

The defendant has provided no reason why the court should question the jury's apparent determination that Jodi was a credible witness, and the court finds none. After a close review of the evidence presented at trial, the court finds the commercial aspects to be sufficiently pervasive in the nonconsensual portion of the relationship between Jodi and the defendant that a new trial on these grounds is not warranted. Accordingly, the defendant's Rule 33 motion is denied.

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9 comments

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Weird
Really quite simple. The defendent should not be prosecuted for anything up until the point the woman finally said, "No". Everything before that was either explicit or implied consentual behavior.
Posted by Dr_Zinj (727 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In A Society Where...
Someone can agree to have sex the night before, but wake up, regret the act and claim rape, it's a bit much to expect such a point of demarcation.

-tom
Posted by ferricoxide (1125 comments )
Link Flag
contracts
Was there a contract?If so it should be signed by her and where I come from be binding prove of her acceptance to this life style!Then if she wanted out lets it be signed on the contract.He seems to me to get very out of hand in my appenion but these things are supposted to be negotiated before hand and no or red means no if your a real trusted respected Dom.
A slave to one
Lace
Posted by DustyAngel (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sex Slave
Jodi is just as guilty as Marcus. She asked for everything she got and she should serve prison time and any penalties he gets. People who do this have a brain malfunction in my opinion but I guess this world is full of Dalhmers, Bundys, and all other sorts.
Posted by uglo (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am a bit lost
So if agree to have someone beat me with a baseball bat and i enjoy it for 5 months straight and then regret it later on, its their fault and they can go prison for it?

More proof that democracy is slowly falling apart @ the seems. The people are getting smarter then the government and my guess is, in the next 100 years the people will take down the government. But lets hope its peaceful.
Posted by Zupek (85 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not lost at all
If someone wants to die and ask you to kill them you would still be guilty of murder if you complied. Being asked to do something illegal doesn't suddenly make it okay. Besides, agreeing to being killed or beaten/tortured brings up the point that you're not of sound mind at the time, which is required for legal consent. Anyway, this is all beside the point since the man wasn't convicted of assault, he was convicted of sex trafficking (the same thing they get pimps for, if the women are willing or not), and forced labor since he was profiting from his website. The woman's contention was that she originally agreed to the bondage/sex sessions, but once he got pictures he began using them to blackmail her into continuing the relationship and engaging in acts beyond what she wanted (even masochist have their limits). The man's a dangerous sadist that takes great pleasure from others pain, so blackmail doesn't seem at all beyond him. That the fellow wouldn't take a slap on the wrist plea agreement and seemed to think he could get women jurors to side with him after viewing graphic images him torturing a woman makes him also guilty of being felony stupid.
Posted by Lilly222 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Shades of "Gor" !
as in a string to trash BDSM paperbacks, initially written by some university professor and later, I believe, ghosted by a committee.

"Tarnsman of Gor" dates back to 1966. An interesting bit of psychopathology, it seemed. Maybe ten years ago on IRC, I discovered some Gorean channels. Wow. Not only were the users roleplaying, some actually lived the lifestyle. IRL (in Real Life) there were several MZ women involved 24/7. Weird.
Posted by NoVista (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BDSM Cult
I think people are missing the point here. The person who complained to the police did not complain about the abuse, she complained that she had been 'brainwashed' by Marcus.
Marcus was convicted under forced labor legislation. There is no specific legislation aginst cults, so procecutors find that forced labor legislation is the most appropriate law to deal with cults, and many have been sucessfully prosecuted this way.
The lady accused Marcus of brainwashing her, he was prosecuted, and the jury agreed that there was cultic influence, despite marcus claiming that he did nothing more than anyone else in BDSM does.
This conviction is important because it shows that there is serious cultic processes at work within BDSM, and that any informed consent given under this form of duress will not stand up to investigation in a court of law.
Marcus followed the rules of BDSM and could go to jail for 30 years to life. For anyone who believes that 'informed consent' as BDSM teaches it actually means anything, then this judgement shows that it will not stand up to scrutiny in a court of law. Its a crushing blow to one of the basic tenets that sadists put forward in defence of their lifestyle
Posted by spartacus_II (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Government Dictation.
BDSM lifestyle is based on three ideas. Safe, Sane, and CONSENSUAL.

There will always be people who give others a bad name. What I see here is someone who participated in activities and then cried rape after the fact. She willingly moved in with him, willingly let him do things to her and then when the relationship went sour she wanted her pictures down. The issue here isn?t wether or not things happened to her that she didn?t want. The issue is that she wanted the pictures off the web site and so she cried rape in order to force them down. She consented, she signed a model release.

In my opinion she manipulated the system to get a desired result. She has placed the BDSM community in a negative light. An activity isn?t wrong just because it isn?t something you personally would choose.
Posted by AzElizabeth (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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