Photo: Scores strip club in Tampa, Florida
By Ben Robinson
On January 29, a lawsuit was filed against Tampa Strip Club “Scores,” exposing their sexual exploitation of an underage girl with disabilities. The victim was assaulted by customers, forced to strip and perform nude, and engaged in prostitution.
The unnamed victim was first brought to Scores by Roberto ‘Bobbie’ Torres III in 2017. Torres owned a drug rehabilitation center, and took advantage of the girl when she told him she had run away from home. His father also assisted in grooming the victim by giving her money and complimenting her looks.
Torres was pursuing a sexual relationship with the victim as he attempted to find a club willing to hire her and, according to the lawsuit, made her indebted to him while “indoctrinat[ing]” her into an “adult sexual lifestyle.” Though Torres was arrested on a human trafficking charge June 2018, he was placed on probation in November 2018 after the charge was reduced to child neglect, interference with custody, and unlawful use of two-way communications.
The victim was described as a “particularly vulnerable minor.” At the time of her trafficking, she was 17, and the lawsuit states that she “had a developmental age that substantially lagged her chronological age,” with the mental capacity of a 13-year-old. At the strip club, she was given drugs and alcohol to “manage the mental stress and disgust,” according to the suit. She has been living at a residential treatment facility for the past two years.
Score’s attorney Luke Lirot claims that the strip club was “deceived” into hiring someone who claimed to be over 21, but the fake license used clearly did not belong to the victim, listing a different height, eye color, and ethnicity. The strip club also failed to obtain a second form of ID, as required by its own rules, or contact former employers as required by law.
In practice, Scores does not care about sex trafficking, and their hypocritical participation in the “Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking Program” is just a deceptive front for the sake of public relations. The victim’s mother correctly asserted that “the Scores business model is directly to blame for the exploitation of my teenage daughter… [Scores is] enabling and then callously profiting from human trafficking and sexual abuse.”
Laws put in place to prevent human trafficking and the abuse of minors are regularly ignored and subverted by clubs like Scores and the ‘anti-trafficking’ fronts they put up only serve to obscure the exploitation. The ‘entertainment’ they offer legitimizes the idea that women are things to be bought and sold, and reproduces the anti-women ideology that creates and enables sexual predators and abusers.
There is no way to end the sexual exploitation of women through reforms. While the advocates for legalization usually frame themselves as champions for women’s rights and safety, the biggest beneficiaries of legalized prostitution are the pimps who are transformed into legitimate businessmen, the US government which would see tax revenue from sex trafficking, and the Johns (sex buyers) who become legally entitled to the purchase of women.
Police and the US ‘justice’ system also cannot stop the problem of prostitution, as decades of sting operations have done nothing to stem the flow of Johns and pimps and only serve to further criminalize exploited women, pushing them deeper into the black market of prostitution.
The only way to truly solve the problem of women’s exploitation and sex trafficking is to fundamentally change the conditions which give rise to these practices. This means destroying the imperialist system, which creates countless impoverished women exposed to these dangers, as well as the ideology that reproduces this system, which establishes both the demand and the market for sexual exploitation.