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House Panel Votes to Let Prosties Sue Pimps

SPRINGFIELD — “Homer X,” a former pimp who got rich by selling hookers on Chicago’s North Side for nearly 25 years, now believes prostitutes need help from the General Assembly.

Using a fake name to protect his identity, Homer X, 46, spoke to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in support of a measure that would allow prostitutes to sue their pimps. A former Chicago prostitute, Olivia Howard, also testified in favor of the bill.

The bill, called the Predator Accountability Act, was approved unanimously by the committee and now moves to the full House.

While discussing the prostitution bill, Homer X, who has since left prostitution, recounted his methods for keeping his prostitutes dependent on him. He would become a girl’s father figure, using violence, money and promises of protection to keep her from leaving. “You can volunteer to come to me, but you can’t volunteer to leave,” he said.

Under the bill, prostitutes could sue anyone who coerced them to begin a life in prostitution or to stay in the business against their will, and collect money.

While current law addresses most crimes pimps might commit during the course of their businesses, desperate prostitutes are told to look elsewhere when they go to police or lawyers, said Samir Goswami, spokesman for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Also, most courts won’t hear civil claims arising from illegal activities. This bill would exclude prostitutes from that rule.

Howard, who spent 19 years as a prostitute in Chicago, dismissed the notion that hookers would fear retribution if they took advantage of a new law letting them sue.

“It’s not possible she would be worried about getting in trouble as much as being coerced and being made to do it,” she said. “This would give them an avenue for help. A lot of the women are prostituting and aren’t given a chance to say, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ ” No legislators or interest groups opposed the bill so far.



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