Rentboy CEO pleads not guilty to prostitution, money laundering
The former CEO of a shuttered gay men’s escort web site pleaded not guilty to prostitution and money-laundering raps Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court.
Jeffrey Hurant faces up to 20 years behind bars in a case that has been blasted by LGBT activists as a needless intrusion into personal lives.
The feds argue that Hurant’s lucrative site, Rentboy.com, operated as an online brothel that knowingly allowed escorts to pay for ads that touted their sexual services.
The indictment against Hurant linked the site to a Hungarian sex trafficker and also noted that the site failed to enact stringent age verification for escorts.
Prosecutor Tyler Smith said that Hurant was engaged in plea negotiations with the government but that no deal had yet been struck.
Hurant’s attorney sounded a defiant tone outside of court as more than a dozen sign-waving protesters massed in support of the former Rentboy boss.
“Mr. Hurant did not commit a crime,” Michael Tremonte said. “He ran his business openly and lawfully for 20 years. It makes no sense to single him out for prosecution as the government has done. We look forward to his full vindication at trial.”
Hurant was arrested last year along with several staffers who weren’t ultimately indicted and will likely cut deals with prosecutors for lesser raps.
Activist Bill Dobbs called the case “crazy.”
“The US Attorney should know better,” he said Wednesday. “The feds won’t admit their mistake.”