Self-proclaimed "Video Vigilante" Brian Bates did not act as a pimp when he allegedly offered to pay a local prostitute to film her, according to a brief filed last week, although he faces up to 100 years in prison for the charge.
The brief, called a "motion to quash," was filed Nov. 29 in Oklahoma County District Court, asking that the five felony counts of pandering, or "pimping" in street terms, be dismissed against Bates
Bates is to stand trial in January on the charges after he is alleged by police to have paid a self-admitted prostitute, Renee Bonnie McCullough, to meet with clients, or "johns," and perform sex acts with them in a public place so he could video the encounters.
McCullough testified in a preliminary hearing that Bates paid her as much as $60 for footage of sex acts in public areas.
Bates' attorney Scott Adams said the state's case against his client is a flimsy, barely concealed vendetta by Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane in retaliation for Bates' filming of the police beating of Donald Pete.
"They have taken a square peg and crammed it into a round hole just because they wanted to hit him with a felony so bad that they couldn't see straight," Adams told Oklahoma Gazette. "It's funny "¦ it's not funny to Mr. Bates, but it's funny to me."
According to the brief, McCullough's testimony at the preliminary hearing does not support charges of pimping against Bates because Bates did not "procure another person for acts of prostitution," which the law defines as pandering.
"Renee McCullough testified that she would have engaged in acts of prostitution whether or not Mr. Bates was present. (She) testified that Mr. Bates never produced a 'john' or client for the purpose of acts of prostitution with her," the brief states.
"Taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing established that Mr. Bates paid Renee McCullough for the right to film her and nothing more. Mr. Bates did not procure Renee McCullough for the purpose of prostitution as her business was prostitution and she was conducting her business independently of whether Mr. Bates filmed her or not. This evidence is insufficient to sustain the charges against Mr. Bates and this court should dismiss all five counts against him."
Although Lane's office was contacted for this story, spokeswoman Debbie Forshee said Lane wanted to "let the judge decide."
When contacted by the Gazette Dec. 2, Bates said he was patrolling the south Oklahoma City area where McCullough frequents after she was released from the Oklahoma County Jail the day before.
"They let her out (Dec. 1) and they reduced her drug charge to disorderly conduct," said Bates, telling the Gazette he was scouring South Robinson to locate McCullough.
Records show McCullough pled nolo contendere Dec. 1 to failure to appear in court, carrying a weapon and disorderly conduct. Previous records obtained by Gazette show she was arrested on July 31 for the weapons charge and with possession of marijuana. McCullough's male companion, Gerald Loud, also listed as a witness on behalf of Lane's office, remains at large with a warrant issued for his arrest, records show.
Bates said McCullough's arrests, recent jailing and streetwalking background underscore her lack of credibility as a witness. He reiterated that he did not pay her to have sex with johns on video, but acknowledged the legal argument they are pursuing is according to the "light most favorable to the state."
"Anytime you say that, you are saying, 'Even if what she is saying is true, it still isn't against the law,'" Bates said.
A final argument in Bates' brief is that the charges are intended to infringe on Bates' right to report on the Oklahoma City prostitution scene and are an attempt to silence him as a critic of Lane's office.
"The prosecution of Mr. Bates, for videotaping a prostitute engaged in a sexual act, has little if anything to do with the purpose of combating prostitution," the brief states. "The First Amendment restriction placed upon Mr. Bates in paying for the right to videotape a prostitute, in a public place, is far greater than the governmental interest the statute was intended to further."