227 U.S. 326 (1913), 588, Athanasaw & Sampson v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 588
Citation:227 U.S. 326, 33 S.Ct. 285, 57 L.Ed. 528
Party Name:Athanasaw & Sampson v. United States
Case Date:February 24, 1913
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 326

227 U.S. 326 (1913)

33 S.Ct. 285, 57 L.Ed. 528

Athanasaw & Sampson


United States

No. 588

United States Supreme Court

February 24, 1913

Argued January 7, 8, 1913




Hoke v. United States, ante, p. 308, followed to effect that the White Slave Traffic Act of June 25, 1910, is constitutional.

The White Slave Traffic Act of 1910 against inducing women and girls to enter upon a life of prostitution or debauchery covers acts which might ultimately lead to that phase of debauchery which consists in sexual actions, and in this case held that there was no error in refusing to charge that the gist of the offense is the intention of the person when the transportation is procured, or that the word " debauchery " as used in the statute means sexual intercourse, or that the act does not extend to any vice or immorality other than that applicable to sexual actions.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality and construction of the White Slave Act and validity of an indictment and conviction thereunder, are stated in the opinion.

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MCKENNA, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

Indictment for violating the Act of Congress of June 25, 1910, known as the White Slave Act. 36 Stat. 825, c. 395.

The charge is that the defendant transported [33 S.Ct. 286] or caused to be transported, or aided in the transportation of, a girl

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by the name of Agnes Couch, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Tampa, Florida, for the purpose of debauchery.

A crime is variously charged against §§ 2 and 3 of the act in thirty-nine counts, alleging that the transportation was for "the purpose of debauchery" or "to give herself up to debauchery."

A demurrer was filed to the indictment, alleging as grounds thereof the unconstitutionality of the act and that the indictment was insufficient in certain particulars of fact. The demurrer was overruled, and after a trial upon a plea of not guilty defendants were convicted. Defendant Athanasaw was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and six months and the defendant Sampson for one year and three months. The contentions of the defendants are that the Act of Congress is unconstitutional and that errors were committed by the district court in giving and refusing to give certain instructions to the jury.

1. This case was argued and submitted with No. 381, Hoke v. United States, ante, p. 308. The constitutionality of the law was sustained in that case, and further discussion is unnecessary.

2. To understand the ruling of the court on the instructions, an outline of the facts must be stated. Agnes Couch was a girl of seventeen years. She lived at Suwanee, Georgia, but, being in Atlanta in September, 1911, and seeing an advertisement by one Sam Massel for chorus girls, she applied at his office and signed a contract to appear with the Imperial Musical Comedy Company at the Imperial Theater, Tampa, Florida, as a chorus girl at a salary of $20 a week for the first four weeks and $15 a week thereafter, she to room and board in the theater. The theater was operated by the defendants, and Massel acted as their booking representative at Atlanta. After she signed the contract, Massel gave her a railroad ticket which had been provided by the defendants for that

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purpose. She arrived at Tampa about 6:30 A.M. and met the defendant Athanasaw at 7 o'clock.

As to what then took place, the girl testified as follows:

He showed me to my room and took the check to get my trunk. I went to sleep and slept until 2 o'clock in the afternoon. At that hour, one of the girls woke me up to rehearse. I went down in the theater and stayed there about an hour, rehearsing, singing, and then went to lunch in the dining room. All of the girls were there and several boys. I had never had any stage experience. At lunch, they were all smoking, cursing, and using such language I couldn't eat. After lunch, I went to my room, and about 6 o'clock, Louis Athanasaw, one of the defendants, came and said to me I would like it all right; that I was good looking and would make a hit, and not to let any of the boys fool me, and not be any of the boy's girl; to be his. He wanted me to be his girl; to talk to the boys and make a hit, and get all of the money I could out of them. His room was next to mine, and he told me he was coming in my room that night and sleep with me, and he kissed and caressed me. He told me to dress for the show that night and come down into the boxes. I went into the box about 9 o'clock. About that time, Louis Athanasaw's son knocked on my door and told me to come to the boxes. In the box where I went, there were four boys; they were...

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