You are reading

Queens Judge Dismisses Hundreds of Prostitution Cases, Follows Request From Queens DA Katz

Queens DA Melinda Katz (Flickr: Melinda Katz)

March 16, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A Queens judge dismissed nearly 700 open prostitution cases at the request of District Attorney Melinda Katz Tuesday morning.

Queens Acting Supreme Court Justice Toko Serita granted Katz’s request to vacate the open warrants and dismiss the cases pertaining to people who have been charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution and other prostitution-related charges.

More than 200 cases involved the now-repealed loitering statute, which had come to be known as the “Walking While Trans” ban. An additional 443 cases had been for other prostitution-related charges. Some of the cases go back decades, Katz said.

Katz, at a virtual hearing this morning, also asked Judge Serita to seal the cases – so that those charged would not have criminal records related to the cases.

Judge Serita thanked Katz for making the request and called it a “righteous decision.”

“This is an incredibly emotional moment for me as I have seen thousands of cases over the years in my role as the presiding judge of the Queens Trafficking Intervention Court,” she said.

Judge Serita noted that many of those charged had been victims of trafficking and exploited in the commercial sex trade. She added that the laws have stigmatized those charged and prevented them from leading full and rewarding lives.

“This is something we recognize that you did not need to do but did so because it was the right thing to do,” the judge told Katz.

Several defense attorneys appeared at the virtual hearing and waived their clients’ appearances.

Last month, state officials repealed Penal Law 240.37, which had prohibited loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Enforcement of the “Walking While Trans” ban had disproportionately targeted transgender women of color, lawmakers said.

Even before becoming the district attorney, Katz had advocated for its repeal. Once she became district attorney, Katz stopped prosecuting people under the law.

On Tuesday, she said the law “punished members of our community for their gender and their appearance as much as it penalized any conduct that they were alleged to have engaged in.”

“The statute adversely impacted members of our community who were in many instances already victimized and already exploited,” she said.

The DA said the legislature’s repeal of the statute last month was the first step in the “ongoing commitment to justice.”

The next step was “freeing targeted members of our community from the collateral consequences of their arrests,” Katz said. That was addressed today.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Gunman who fired shots at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City remains at large: NYPD

Police from the 114th Precinct in Astoria and PSA 9 are continuing their search for a gunman who allegedly opened fire at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City last month.

The incident occurred during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 18, when officers responded to a 911 call and a ShotSpotter activation for multiple shots fired at 21-25 35 Ave. at the Ravenswood Houses NYCHA complex just after 2 a.m., according to authorities.

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.