A 32-year-old man named Clinton Danner was arrested in Chicago on charges of pandering: he forced his wife to sell herself to men all over the country, and has been doing so since she was pregnant with their child, who is now three years old. He would set up dates for her on Craigslist and threaten the safety of their daughter if she refused to comply. Danner, a “reformed” convict, first met his wife at a church youth group when she was 17.
Danner has sent his wife as far as Georgia and New York, to have sex for money while he and their daughter lived out of a minivan. After his wife — holed up in a hotel in downtown Chicago — called the Polaris Project, authorities arrested Danner upon his arrival at her hotel, only to release him later on a $150,000 bail.
Danner has a few felony convictions on his rap sheet in Minnesota for drugs and lottery fraud. During his previous jail sentence, he claimed to have had a revelation and vowed to reform his ways, leading him to the church where he met his wife. Clearly, however, nothing changed.
When standing before a judge to answer for his actions, he was released on a seemingly insignificant bail. Did the judge believe his jailhouse testimony from years ago, and view the recent charges as a small setback? Bail can be a touchy subject, essentially assigning a value to crimes and ranking them largely based on a judge’s subjectivity, but his wife is in danger, and so is his daughter, and the abuse he has shown both of them over the past four years should demonstrate that this man belongs behind bars, or at least that the severity of his crime and his past actions should be appreciated.
This issue circles back to the recent debate about Craigslist’s adult ads and the lack of sufficient screening that enables men like Mr. Danner to pimp out vulnerable women online. Even if these websites did screen, though, how would they do so effectively and thoroughly? Traffickers and pimps are experts at creating false identities and paperwork in an attempt to work outside the law. If they can successfully elude police, they can definitely work their way around online screening. Websites like Craigslist make it easy for pimps and other traffickers by creating a forum for them to attract business. The only way to prevent cases like this from happening in the future is to eliminate the adult service ads on Craigslist all together.
I hope that when his trial comes around, Danner is locked up for a long time without any opportunity for parole. We have clearly seen history repeating itself in his case and should now know that he cannot — never has and never will — change. Furthermore, until judges and other law enforcement officials assign strict sentences and harsh punishments for trafficking, forced prostitution and pimping, the cycle will never be broken.
I am proud of his wife for finding the courage to call for help. Women who are being abused, threatened and trafficked are often scared to reach out for fear of retribution from their oppressors or to avoid being sent back to what are often worse situations than what they currently face. My hope is that those in similar circumstances will find the strength to reach out to groups that have the means, capabilities and determination to help them.
Photo credit: Foxtongue