Lawyer: Spitzer met regularly with prostitutes

By LARRY NEUMEISTER | Associated Press Writer
June 1, 2009

NEW YORK – A lawyer for a former escort service booker says his client revealed that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer met regularly with prostitutes over an 18-month period before he resigned.

The lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, spoke outside court after his client, Temeka Lewis, was sentenced on Monday to one year’s probation.

She worked for the Emperors Club V.I.P. escort service when she set up the February 2008 meeting between the prostitute and “Client-9.” Spitzer was referred to as Client-9 in court papers. Continue reading

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Ashley Dupré Exclusive: ‘My Side of the Story’

Escort at Center of Eliot Spitzer Scandal Talks to Diane Sawyer

By KIMBERLY LAUNIER and KATIE ESCHERICH

Nov. 19, 2008—

 

The young woman at the center of the historic downfall of the governor of New York is finally speaking out.

Ashley Dupré, the 23-year-old former escort who was the target of intense media scrutiny in the days after Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation from public office, has stepped forward to give her first television interview. Dupré told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that she does not feel responsible for Spitzer’s downfall.

“If it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else,” she said. “I was doing my job. I don’t feel that I brought him down.”

In March, the media discovered Dupré was “Kristen,” her alias at the Emperor’s Club V.I.P., the high-end escort service that had arranged her rendezvous at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., with Spitzer. Soon after the story broke, Dupré sought refuge at her family’s home in New Jersey.

“I felt like it was surreal, like it wasn’t happening,” she said. “But it was.”
Continue reading

Ex-Call Girl Ashley Dupré: I’m a ‘Normal Girl’

By Mark Dagostino

Originally posted Wednesday November 19, 2008 08:00 AM EST

She was the tabloid sensation at the center of the sex scandal that brought down New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. But in her very first interview, Ashley Alexandra Dupré tells PEOPLE, “I am a normal girl.”

“Everyone knows me as ‘that girl,’ but I’m not just ‘that girl,’ ” the 23-year-old former escort says in the new issue of PEOPLE, on sale Friday. “I have a lot of depth, a lot of layers.”

Enduring a media spotlight that included seeing her MySpace photos splashed on front pages “has been really hard,” the New Jersey native explains. “But I’m a survivor.” Continue reading

CNBC’s ‘Dirty Money: The Business of High End Prostitution’ Premiers on Tuesday, November 11th at 10pm & 1am ET

There’s one business thriving in this treacherous economy–especially on Wall Street.

cnbc.com – October 30, 2008
 

(PRNewsChannel) / Englewood Cliffs, N.J. / The stock market plummets, unemployment soars, housing prices sink, but one business is sheltered from the rest of the country’s financial storm: high-end prostitution. Who are these “escorts” to the rich and powerful? And why do members of the “business elite” risk it all for their services?  

CNBC, First in Business Worldwide presents “Dirty Money: The Business of High-End Prostitution” an original one-hour production anchored by Melissa Francis (co-anchor of CNBC’s “The Call”) airing on Tuesday November 11th at 10PM & 1AM ET.
Continue reading

Spitzer Won’t Face Charges for Scandal

No Evidence That Ex-Governor Used Public or Campaign Money for Prostitution

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008; A02

Former New York governor Eliot L. Spitzer will not face criminal charges for his role in a prostitution scandal that drove him from office this year, prosecutors announced yesterday.

Investigators for the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service uncovered no evidence that Spitzer had misused public or campaign money to pay women employed by the Emperors Club VIP, a high-priced New York prostitution ring.

Justice Department guidelines disfavor indictments against clients of prostitution rings, even those who transport women across state lines to have sex in violation of the Mann Act. Spitzer acknowledged making payments to the service, which amounted to “acceptance of responsibility for his conduct,” said Michael J. Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“We have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.

In all, four people connected to the Emperors Club as bookers and organizers pleaded guilty to criminal offenses for their roles in the scandal. Authorities looked closely at building a case against Spitzer based on his withdrawals of money and his payments to a shell company called QAT Consulting Group. But they ultimately determined that there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed against him, Garcia said.

Spitzer, a Democrat who had crusaded against Wall Street abuses as New York’s attorney general, encountered a rockier path in Albany, where he clashed with the Republican majority leader and even members of his own political camp.

In recent months, Spitzer receded from public view, working at his father’s real estate investment company and maintaining an unusual silence for a man who once dominated the headlines and used his office as a bully pulpit. Behind the scenes, defense attorneys Theodore V. Wells Jr. and Michele Hirshman provided financial data to prosecutors in an effort to persuade them to drop the case.

Yesterday, Spitzer made a statement through a New York public relations firm saying that he appreciated “the impartiality and thoroughness of the investigation.”

“I resigned my position as governor because I recognized that my conduct was unworthy of an elected official. I once again apologize for my actions, and for the pain and disappointment those actions caused my family and the many people who supported me during my career in public life,” he said.

The disclosure in March that Spitzer was “Client-9” in a seamy affidavit involving an international prostitution operation set off a media firestorm. Room 871 of Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, where Spitzer had a rendezvous with prostitute Ashley Alexandra Dupre in February, became a minor tourist attraction. FBI agents previously had trailed Spitzer to the hotel in an unsuccessful effort to catch him in the act.

Don Buchwald, an attorney for Dupre, said yesterday that she is “pleased the matter is behind her.”

Prosecutors said their investigation began as an effort to determine whether the governor was engaged in public corruption. They noticed unusual payments from Spitzer into the QAT Consulting bank account, an account that had been used to launder more than $1 million from the prostitution ring.

Investigators obtained wiretaps in which Spitzer and other customers arranged liaisons with women, sometimes paying more than $4,000 per night.

Spitzer resigned in the middle of his first gubernatorial term, at a news conference in which his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, stood gravely by his side.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Link to original story

Trading on America’s puritanical streak

Prostitution laws mean-spirited, penalize women


Published on: 03/14/08

 
Eliot Spitzer, one of the nation’s most gifted and dedicated politicians, was hounded into resignation by a Puritanism and mean-spiritedness that are quintessentially American.
My European colleagues (I write from an academic conference in Belgium) have a hard time understanding what happened, but they know that it is one of those things that could only happen in America, where the topic of sex drives otherwise reasonable people insane. In Germany and the Netherlands, prostitution is legal and regulated by public health authorities. A man who did what Spitzer did would have a lot to discuss with his wife and family, but he would have broken no laws, and it would be laughable to accuse him of a betrayal of the public trust. This is as it should be. If Spitzer broke any laws, they were bad laws, laws that should never have existed.
 
Why are there laws against prostitution? All of us, with the exception of the independently wealthy and the unemployed, take money for the use of our body. Professors, factory workers, opera singers, sex workers, doctors, legislators — all do things with parts of their bodies for which others offer them a fee. Some people get good wages and some do not; some have a relatively high degree of control over their working conditions and some have little control; some have many employment options and some have very few. And some are socially stigmatized and some are not. However, the difference between the sex worker and the professor — who takes money for the use of a particularly intimate part of her body, namely her mind — is not the difference between a “good woman” and a “bad woman.” It is, usually, the difference between a prosperous well-educated woman and a poor woman with few employment options.
 
The sliding stigma scaleMany types of bodily wage labor used to be socially stigmatized. In the Middle Ages it was widely thought base to take money for the use of one’s scholarly services. Adam Smith, in “The Wealth of Nations,” tells us there are “some very agreeable and beautiful talents” that are admirable so long as no pay is taken for them, “but of which the exercise for the sake of gain is considered, whether from reason or prejudice, as a sort of publick prostitution.” For this reason, he continues, opera singers, actors and dancers must be paid an “exorbitant” wage, to compensate them for the stigma involved in using their talents “as the means of subsistence.” His discussion is revealing for what it shows us about stigma. Today few professions are more honored than that of opera singer; and yet only 200 years ago, that public use of one’s body for pay was taken to be a kind of prostitution.
 
Some of the stigma attached to opera singers was a general stigma about wage labor. Wealthy elites have always preferred genteel amateurism. But the fact that passion was being expressed publicly with the body — particularly the female body — made singers, dancers and actors nonrespectable in polite society until very recently. Now they are respectable, but women who take money for sexual services are still thought to be doing something that is not only nonrespectable but so bad that it should remain illegal.
 
What should really trouble us about sex work? That it is sex that these women do, with many customers, should not in and of itself trouble us, from the point of view of legality, even if we personally don’t share the woman’s values. Nonetheless, it is this one fact that still-Puritan America finds utterly intolerable. (Note, however, that we no longer allow a woman’s sexual history to be used in a rape trial because we know that the fact that a woman may have had sex with many men does not mean that she has become a debased character who cannot be raped.)
 
Exploitation the sordid partWhat should trouble us are things like this: The working conditions for most women in sex work are extremely unhealthy. They are exploited by pimps, and they enjoy little control over which clients they will accept. Police harass them and extort sexual favors from them. Some of these bad features (unhealthiness, little control) sex work shares with other job options for low-income women, such as factory work of many kinds. Other bad features (police extortion) are the natural result of illegality itself.
 
In general we should be worried about poverty and lack of education. We should be worried that women have too few decent employment options and too little health and safety regulation in those that they do have. And we should be worried if men force women to do things sexually that they do not want to do. All these things are worth worrying about, and it is these things that sensible nations do worry about. But the idea that we ought to penalize women with few choices by removing one of the ones they do have is grotesque, the unmistakable fruit of the all-too-American thought that women who choose to have sex with many men are tainted, vile things who must be punished.
 
Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible nations. The hue and cry that has ruined one of the nation’s most committed political careers shows our country to itself in a very ugly light.
 
Martha Nussbaum is a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago.”
 
http://www.ajc.com/search/content/opinion/2008/03/13/spitzered_0314.html

Death and the D.C. Madam

 

Call girls speak out about the suicide of Deborah Jeane Palfrey and the complicated truths it reveals about their lives.

By Susannah Breslin

May. 05, 2008 | On May 1, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, better known as “the D.C. Madam,” was found dead in a shed located behind her mother’s Tarpon Springs, Fla., mobile home. Apparently, Palfrey, 52, hanged herself from a metal beam with a length of nylon rope. When her 76-year-old mother, Blanche Palfrey, called 911 just before 11 a.m., the emergency operator asked if her daughter was still hanging from the rafter. “Yes,” said the madam’s weeping mother, who had regularly accompanied her daughter to court the month previous, “I can’t move her. I’m 76 years old.”

Palfrey’s was one of a recent spate of high-profile political sex scandals, from Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s toe-tapping routine to the fall of New York Gov. Eliot “Luv Guv” Spitzer. It was also another chapter in our ongoing fascination with prostitution — that mysterious and yet still little-understood profession. (Palfrey entered the business as an escort. Later, she became a madam, claiming she was “appalled and disgusted” by the way women in the sex business were treated.) Sex may be everywhere these days — heck, adult movie star Jenna Jameson’s autobiography, “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale,” was a New York Times bestseller — but what life is really like inside the American sex trade remains a mystery. Mostly, Americans have been fed one of two myths about sex workers: the “Pretty Woman” story about a hooker with a heart of gold, or the Jezebel tale about a woman who leads moral men astray by virtue of her sexual wiles.

In more recent years, thanks to a growing number of call girls, strippers and other sex workers using blogs to tell their stories in their own words, we’ve seen a more complex and nuanced tale. And it’s one we don’t seem to be able to get enough of. HBO and Showtime are launching competing series focusing on working girls — “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star is turning Tracy Quan’s “Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl” (which began as a column on Salon) into a dramatic series for HBO, while Showtime will begin airing the U.K. series “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” based on the blog turned book by Belle de Jour, next month.

Though Palfrey’s death is complicated, not to mention controversial, it does offer us some insight into the experience of sex industry workers, who bear the burden of a double life and the toll of secrecy. I contacted three women, currently chronicling online their past and present lives as sex workers, to speak to them about their reactions to Palfrey’s harrowing tale and how sharing their own stories might keep them from a similar kind of darkness.

Melissa Gira is a San Francisco-based sex worker and Valleywag reporter who last year co-founded Bound, Not Gagged, a group blog written by and for sex workers, because of the Palfrey case. Tired of so-called experts speaking for sex workers in the mainstream media, Gira created the site as a forum where working women could express their opinions, reactions and frustrations. The day the blog launched, Gira found Palfrey’s phone number, called her and spoke with her briefly about the project. “I was shocked she picked up the phone, she knew what a blog was, and she wasn’t immediately distrustful,” Gira says.

Upon hearing of Palfrey’s death, Gira felt a jumble of emotions: confusion, anger, sadness. “Her story represented our story,” she says.

Gira is angry about the way female sex workers are vilified when stories like these go public, while the men involved “go back to their job or they quietly leave.” From among the 15,000 names in Palfrey’s potent little black book, only three boldface names surfaced: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, a married Republican and father of four who apologized for his “very serious sin” and kept his job; U.S. ambassador Randall L. Tobias, who as Bush’s “AIDS czar” had publicly denounced prostitution and resigned after his outing; and Harlan K. Ullman, a retired Navy commander known for developing the shock-and-awe doctrine and who told Brian Ross of ABC News that he had gotten only massages from the women involved, not had sex with them, and stated that the experience was “like ordering pizza.”

“If I was in her position I would have papered the walls of that shed with the sheets of my client list,” says Gira.

Although Gira is frustrated by the media’s relentless representation of sex workers as victims, she is also suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Palfrey’s death. It has been a question circulating since: Did Palfrey actually kill herself? In fact, Palfrey had stated in numerous interviews with members of the press that she would rather commit suicide than return to prison. Washington, D.C., writer Dan Moldea, who got to know Palfrey while considering writing a book about her, told reporters that Palfrey had told him, “I am not going back to prison. I will commit suicide first.” At the time of her death, she was awaiting her July 24 sentencing, and authorities in Florida have reported that several suicide notes were found at the scene. Either way, Gira says, Palfrey’s death has had a “chilling effect” on at least some sex workers, who, now fearing for their own lives, are more reluctant than ever to reveal themselves.

Another sex worker I spoke with, who writes online about her call girl experiences but requested anonymity for this story, was pained by the news of Palfrey’s death as well as the related older news of the death of University of Maryland professor turned call girl Brandy Britton, 43, who killed herself in January 2007 while awaiting trial on prostitution charges. Britton was a one-time employee of Palfrey’s; after Britton was found hanging in her living room, Palfrey pronounced, ironically: “I guess I’m made of something that Brandy Britton wasn’t made of.”

The call girl I interviewed was struck by the emotional stories behind these public deaths. “The first thing I thought about was the incredible isolation that both of them probably felt,” she said. “Because you’re doing something that’s perceived to be so morally wrong that you’re immediately outside society, as a prostitute or a madam. You’ve got this secret life or a compartmentalized life, and then to be pushed out there and villainized — I can only imagine the incredible isolation they must have felt.”

As a sex worker, she went on, you live a “double life.” A madam whom she worked for before she went freelance was intensely paranoid, “crazy,” prone to anxious late-night phone calls. “It got to her. She would call me up and panic, thinking they were out to get her. It was the psychology of sex work, the fear of being outed.”

When the call girl I spoke with worked at an agency, she says, she was kept isolated from other women. Then, when she started writing online about sex work, all that changed. “I know the moment I started blogging about it at length, I started connecting to other women online. It made a huge difference. I stopped feeling alone. I stopped feeling like I had to hide everything from anybody. It felt as though I had a connection to the outside world that I didn’t have before.” After all, sex work is not easy. “You have these very intimate connections, but you’re totally disposable with clients. You’re a ghost moving through their world.”

Palfrey’s story, she says, is “heartbreaking,” but at its core, she believes, Palfrey’s final act reveals more about America than the madam. “It’s sort of unsurprising that somebody like Palfrey could feel driven to suicide — because of the shame of being in the sex work world.”

Bree Daniels, a former call girl who named herself after the prostitute who helps a private detective catch a call girl killer in the 1971 film “Klute,” blogs at One Shady Lady about the three years she spent as an escort in New York and California. Or at least she blogged until recently. (Her boyfriend isn’t crazy about her blogging in the present tense about her past life.) She launched her site after the Spitzer story broke because she was sick of the way sex work and sex workers were being depicted in the media. “I think I was feeling extremely angry at all the misinformation and the double standard that it’s acceptable for boys who will be boys, but women who do this are basically like the devil’s minions.” Instead, she says, “I wanted people to understand more about the business from someone who had been in the business.” Daniels worked in the corporate world before getting into escorting for the money. “I think there’s a misconception that women in the business are all sexually louche, and that we’re damaged. When I started I’d had sex with eight people.” In high school, she could have been voted least likely to become a call girl. “Most people always said I looked like a librarian.”

When Palfrey was indicted, Daniels wrote her a letter. “I wrote to her when it all broke out last year, just saying if you hadn’t made a copy of your records, you should leave them with everyone you know, just in case.” The dangers inherent to sex work are very real, Daniels underscores. “You can lull yourself into a false sense of security, and then when something happens, you realize that you’re totally expendable, that nobody cares. You feel so powerless. And I think a lot of women just choose not to think about it — because it’s the only way that you can get through it and do the job.” In the beginning of her escort career, before setting out on her own, Daniels worked for a madam. “I came to two realizations,” she says about that experience. “I could do what she was doing myself and keep all the money. And the second thing was if I turned up dead, she would be calling up her Mafia buddies to have my body dumped in Jersey. She didn’t care about me.”

Madams — who are, essentially, female pimps — can be “the most mercenary individuals on the planet,” she says. She adds, however, “Not all of them are that way.”

In the end, Daniels quit the business because she was “burned out.” Sometimes, she misses the camaraderie among the women she worked with in the sex business. “They say there’s no honor among thieves, but there’s a lot of honor among these women. And that to me is the best thing that I take away from all this.”

Melissa Gira, for one, is optimistic that one day Americans will see sex work as real work and sex workers as real people. After all, she says of Palfrey’s death: “I don’t think this was a suicide of concession. If anything, it’s ‘You’re not going to take me alive.'”

 

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/05/05/dc_madam/print.html
— By Susannah Breslin

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