28 December 2010
Douglas Allen, owner and operator of Big Apple Oriental Tours (www.baotours.com) was arrested on December 3, 2010 for promoting prostitution. Following a three month undercover investigation conducted by the Westchester County District Attorney’s office, Allen was arraigned on a Felony Complaint charging him with “one count of Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a class “D” felony,” says a press release issued by the Westchester District Attorney’s office. He faces a maximum sentence of two and one third to seven years in state prison.
“This is not a new case for us. Equality Now has advocated for shutting down Big Apple Oriental Tours and the prosecution of its owner/operators since 1996,” says Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director of Equality Now. At that time, the company was providing a twelve-day trip to the Philippines or Thailand for sex tourists at the cost of $2,195, which included transportation, airfare, hotel room, and the ability of the sex tourist to have “real sex with real girls, all for real cheap.”
In 2004, then BAOT owner Norman Barabash and co-operator Douglas Allen were charged with promoting prostitution after Equality Now brought the company’s activities to the New York State Attorney General’s attention. This followed an unprecedented civil action brought by the Attorney General against BAOT in 2003, which effectively shut down the sex tour operator’s website and activities through a temporary restraining order against the company pending the outcome of the criminal case. In January 2009, after a series of indictments, appeals, and a trial in Dutchess County Court, Barabash and Allen were acquitted of promoting prostitution in the Third Degree as it was defined prior to passage of New York’s anti-trafficking law.
Big Apple Oriental Tours now seems to have resumed its operations. According to the Westchester District Attorney’s press release their investigation revealed that Allen was again arranging for sex tourists to travel to Angeles City in the Philippines for $2,500. Angeles City is a known sex tourism destination. Once there, Big Apple Oriental Tours would arrange for an escort to assist sex tourists in meeting “eligible” women in strip clubs and go-go bars with whom they could negotiate the purchase of various sex acts.
In the course of campaigning against Big Apple Oriental Tours and other sex tour companies in the US, Equality Now realized the urgent need for strong laws that would specifically address sex tourism. Therefore it advocated for the incorporation of a provision on sex tourism under the NY Human Trafficking act, which includes such provision. “We are encouraged to note that the New York state anti-trafficking law is being implemented. Doug Allen has been involved with Big Apple Oriental Tour for too long,” continued Ms. Bien-Aimé. “It is time law enforcement sends the message that sex tourism is a crime, intricately linked to sex trafficking. Allen must be held accountable.”