Sunday, May 22, 2016

Phoenix Goddess Temple Leader Convicted of 22 Charges Connected to Running a Brothel // Sentenced to 4.5 Years of Prison

I've written a couple of times (here and here) about the Phoenix Goddess Temple, which was the subject of a 6-month undercover investigation for operating a secret brothel. Several male and female church practitioners were arrested and accused of performing sex acts in exchange for monetary donations. The Goddess Temple argued that their neo tantric healing therapists were not acts of prostitution, but instead religious acts.

I've vaguely followed this case since it went to trial. I don't know what happened to the various church practitioners, but I do know that Tracy Elise, the Phoenix Goddess Temple's leader, was found guilty last March of 22 criminal charges connected to running a brothel. Those charges include conspiracy to commit illegal enterprise, illegal control of an enterprise, operating or maintaining a house of prostitution, multiple counts of money laundering, and multiple counts of pandering.

Earlier this week, she was sentence to 4 1/2 years in prison for each of the 22 counts for which she was convicted. Seriously. Fortunately, the charges will be served concurrently. She will then be sentenced to four years of probation when she gets released from prison.

She will be given credit for the 305 days that she has been sitting in jail. Keep in mind that the trial began in November 2015. That means that she spent nearly a year in jail while waiting for her case to evolve.

She plans to appeal this verdict.

Let's set aside the question of religious liberty for a Pagan faith community that seems to have been trampled. Elise could have been sentenced to 99 years for prostitution. How sick is that?

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