Is paying a 16-year-old boy to kiss his feet the same thing as forcing children into prostitution? For those connected to reality, the answer should be a pretty obvious no. But for government officials devoted to the idea that America is gripped by an epidemic of sex-trafficking, reality increasingly takes a back seat to upholding the narrative.
Case in point: Wisconsin prosecutors recently charged 46-year-old retail manager Kevin Long with sexual trafficking of a child—a Class C felony that could come with up to 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine—after he admitted to offering to pay two teen boys, ages 16 and 17, to kiss or lick their feet. The 16-year-old agreed to Long’s proposition, but the 17-year-old said no, after which Long apologized and took him shoe-shopping, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The case centered on whether Long’s request could rightfully be characterized as a “commercial sex act.”
In 2015, the Wisconsin legislature amended state law to include “transporting,” “patronizing,” and “soliciting” someone under 18 for “a commercial sex act” to the list of actions that constitute child sex-trafficking. Previously, the state’s criminal code defined child sex-trafficking as “knowingly recruiting, enticing, providing, or harboring any child for the purpose of a commercial sex act, or knowingly attempting to do so.”
Long’s attorney, Ray Dall’Osto, argued “that the complaint alleged no facts that would suggest the crime [of child sex trafficking] was committed,” the Sentinel reported. “There was no sexual touching, no exposure or even discussion of genitals, he said.” But the prosecution portrayed this as absurd, arguing that there could clearly be no reason for Long’s activities but sexual gratification and that Long had a foot fetish.
At a preliminary hearing in August, court commissioner Barry Phillips was sympathetic to the state’s argument that feet-touching and kissing is inherently sexual, saying that one of the first things that came to mind when he heard the case was a scene in the film Pulp Fiction. “Doesn’t someone get thrown out a window for giving someone else’s wife a foot massage?” asked Phillips.
But the defense contended that feet-kissing could also have religious connotations, citing the Bible and, as a more recent example, Pope Francis.
Ultimately, Long accepted a plea offer from the state, copping to one count of pandering and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, all misdemeanors. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner gave Long a suspended sentence of three years probation.