The D.C. Madam Case, All Sordid Out

By Dana Milbank Washington Post
Friday, April 11, 2008; A03

Yesterday, it was the turn of a young naval officer to take the stand; the case will almost certainly end her career. The prosecutor, Daniel Butler, had the woman spell her name slowly and clearly, then had her talk about when she was “aggressive” with a client, when she was “more submissive,” when she had a difficult client (“he tried to remove the condom”) and how often she got “intimate.”

“What do you mean by ‘intimate’? ”

The soon-to-be-former naval officer looked at him in disbelief. “Touching, caressing,” she explained.

“What happened” after that? he demanded.

“Sex.”

“What type of sex?”

“Sometimes it was oral sex; usually it was normal.”

“Normal?” Butler persisted.

“I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” the stricken witness pleaded.

“What’s normal sex?” Butler again demanded.

Judge James Robertson intervened. “He wants to know if you mean intercourse.”

Butler pressed on with more humiliating questions until the judge cut him off. “That’s enough,” Robertson said. Minutes later, the dazed woman was helped out of the room.

From the audience, it appears that prosecutors have presented a solid case that the alleged Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, did indeed run a prostitution ring. A better question, however, is why they bothered. Prosecutors say the prostitution ring generated all of $2 million over 13 years — small potatoes for a federal racketeering and money-laundering case that could ruin the lives of 132 women.

It’s a question that evidently has occurred to the judge. Yesterday, prosecutors unpacked eight binders full of money-order receipts that reveal the identity of most, if not all, of the Madam’s escorts. “You want to make public the names of all the employees?” Robertson asked prosecutor Catherine Connelly. “Is there no limit to the collateral damage?”

Evidently not. Connelly said the names had to be released. “Unfortunately.”

This women has been put on leave by the Navy. Let’s see who else will lose their jobs and lives as pittance for working as escorts in the past.