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Escorts are ‘dates’ protected under NJ law, judges rule

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Paying for companionship can be considered a “dating relationship” that entitles a professional escort to certain protections under New Jersey’s domestic violence laws, an appeals court has found.

The Appellate Division upheld a lower court judge’s permanent restraining order against a men’s club patron who threatened one of his favorite dancers.

Although he insisted their relationship was strictly professional, the appeals judges found that socializing with a paid escort amounts to a “dating relationship” under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.

“Considering the Act’s intended broad scope, we reject the contention that a relationship which includes a payment of consideration for the other’s time precludes the finding of a dating relationship,” Judge Clarkson Fisher Jr. wrote in the opinion.

“Experience suggests that most claims of a dating relationship turn on what the particular parties would view as a ‘date,’ ” Fisher wrote.

The judge also said the courts “should vigilantly guard against a slavish adherence to any formula that does not consider the parties’ own understanding of their relationship as colored by socio-economic and generational influences.”

In this case, the customer said, he wined and dined the dancer, and even took her to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.

When she began seeing another man, he became jealous and sent her threatening text messages, court papers say.

She quickly secured a temporary restraining order, aruging that the two of them had been in a romantic relationship, even though most of their dates were at the clubs where she danced.

He, in turn, called her a hooker.

“[D]espite his attempts to disparage plaintiff by asserting their relationship was ‘professional,’ defendant testified that his tendering of money to plaintiff was meant ‘to help her out financially’ and not necessarily in exchange for her time,” Fisher wrote.

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