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Comments on the Ashley Berg trial

Posted on Currently in the Philadelphia area, David. F. Downey, is on trial for the overdose death of 17 year old stripper, Ashley Berg. The girl worked as an exotic dancer, possibly to support a drug habit. The divorced Downey apparently had money to burn, hiring dancers to provide company and sex–he spent from $600 to $1500 a night on girls and cocaine. Ashley Berg was given too much cocaine; she overdosed; Downey did not call in medical attention, (maybe he didn’t want to get caught with both cocaine and a 17 year old girl) and she died. He called the agency who set him up with Ashley; they took the body and got rid of it. Mr. Downey, while telling the press of his regret over the girl’s death, did not stop his practices; he went back to hiring teen age escorts and getting cocaine within weeks.

If this isn’t a case of dual addiction at its ugliest, then I don’t know what is.I keep thinking that I’ve heard it all, but now I know that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of human depravity. I’m not writing this to judge Mr. Downey or Ashley Berg, nor am I asking for us to pity these people. Instead, I am outraged that we live in a world that creates addicts and rewards people who cater to them. One of the dancers who testified at Mr. Downey’s trial, said that he hired her over 50 times: she made between S30,000 to $75,000 dollars, money that she needed to support her young children. If she made that kind of money, can you imagine what the escort service was raking in? People like David Downey and Ashley Berg aren’t something unusual; they are becoming a dime a dozen.

I am a recovering drug addict, so I know a few things about this world. When I was 17, I had friends who became exotic dancers and escorts to support their habit; they often encouraged me to do the same. I was lucky that my father got me into rehab before I went that route, but I am not going to pretend that Ashley’s fate could have been mine. My closest friend at the time, who overdosed twice, eventually became a prostitute, first working for some high class escort services and making good money, but she eventually sank into a much deeper ditch as her addiction took her over. She was one of my best friends from high school, and to this day, I don’t know if she is alive or dead, imprisoned, homeless, destitute. I hope that she came into recovery. I know that the deepest trigger for her self-degredation was her tulmultous relationship with her mother, who died when she was 17. (The magic age for horror, I guess.)As a society, we are not taking care of our young ladies.

I certainly don’t know Downey, but I am going to make a few theories about him. He divorced, meaning that he was unsuccessful in a committed relationship. Instead of working on what went wrong, he decided to meet his sexual needs through teenagers who were turning to stripping out of desperate circumstances. So Mr. Downey must not be able to approach intimacy with another human being as an unveiling of self; he prefers quick sexual encounters that hold no strings. This way he keeps his own vision of his emotional vulnerablity intact. His need to continue with these encounters, despite having murder charges filed against him, meant that he didn’t know how to stop. His apparent lack of remorse is again a result of the addiction; the deeper you go, the less you care about whom you hurt. People are objects who serve the monster within. Even with all these problems, he hasn’t hit bottom yet. Call him evil, call him bad news, but for every David Downey that is caught, an untold number are still calling the escort services, seeking out prostitutes, getting cocaine, masturbating to porn–and why not? It’s there, isn’t it? It’s so easy to get laid without attachment, and drugs make it more fun. The problem does not lie with Downey or any other men who seek out these girls–it is the catering to addiction in a neo-economy that relies on human weakness in order to make big bucks. Let’s create some female addicts who will sink far enough to prostitute themselves, and then let’s seek out some men who just want to party without any responsibilities.

Presto: the sex and drug industry: sorry, my evangelical shriekers, this problem is not going away by making people read the Bible or putting up the ten commendments in school. Our government, our law enforcement agencies and our economic base must cease to reward the predators that create and enable addicts.

We are a society of hypocrites. We waste time on amendments on gay marriage while we turn a blind eye to middle class girls having oral sex at age 11. We say “bad boy” to the guy who watches porn, but what do we do to make him feel secure in his manhood so that he will want a meaningful relationship with a significant other? We say gays are immoral because they aren’t following the laws in Leviticus, but we aren’t looking at the reasons why some heterosexual men base their sexuality on pure objectification of women. How many cops are taking narcotics bribes? How many law officials have financial connections to the sex industries? How many corporate businesses send their people to Thailand for vacations involving prostitution as recreation? Why is the drug war the biggest joke on earth? We judge, we blame individuals, we seek out scapegoats, but we turn our back on the real problem—we don’t want a moral, upright society; there’s no money in it. People need to free themselves of the real monster–economic whoredom that disguises itself as freedom and democracy. The power only lies in individual choice: do not succumb to those forces who will make you an addict and spit you out when they are done. Think for yourself before it’s too late.


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