Porn Actor Jailed for Spreading Syphilis


Last week in Los Angeles adult film star Jesse Spencer, who is known in the porn industry as Mr. Marcus, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 36 months of probation, and 15 hours of community labor for spreading a sexually transmitted infection (STI) to two female co-stars. Most states have laws that say partners must disclose known STIs before having sex, but very few people ever face criminal charges—though civil suits are more common.

In this case, prosecutors argued that Spencer was diagnosed on July 13 of last year and therefore knew he had syphilis when he shot sex scenes with the actresses between July 26 and August 7. They charged him with exposing another to a communicable disease. Spencer claims, however, that this is not the case as he was given a shot of penicillin when he was diagnosed and reasonably believed that he had been cured by the time filming began.

Spencer’s lawyer, Martin Cutler, thinks that his client is caught in a political battle over Measure B, the ordinance passed by voters last year that requires actors in adult films shot in Los Angeles to wear condoms on set. The city is working out the details of how to enforce this law, and Cutler believes prosecutors are using this case a cautionary tale in the hopes it will convince actors to police themselves.

A third actress is suing Spencer in civil court, where such cases are more likely, but still difficult, to prove. For example, a New York woman sued Arnold Simon, a former Calvin Klein CEO, claiming that he gave the woman herpes after the two met through an online dating service. The woman was awarded $5 million, but attorney Matthew Blit, whose firm represented her, said such victories are hard fought: “[I]t’s a very tricky area because it has to do with the disclosure of medical records and we can face a very big challenge. They are very difficult to win. The facts need to align perfectly.”

Spencer’s lawyer believes that in his cases the facts do not align, and he plans to argue that his client was not infected at the time of the film shoot. It remains to be seen whether that argument plays better in civil court than it did in his criminal trial.

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  • lipstickliz

    There’s more to it than Measure B. $5 says there are race issues as well and no one is bringing them up because most of the adult biz, and those reporting on it, is white.