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The Carlton Case. “One evening, I opened my fridge, it was empty”.

Translated Monday 23 February 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Yesterday, two ex-prostitutes in the Carlton affair gave their revealing testimonies of the reality of prostitution: the financial insecurity which pushes girls into it, the fear and the possibility of getting out of it.

Lille (Nord), special correspondent.

Jade [1] hesitated a lot before giving her testimony before the Criminal Court in Lille. The court’s refusal of the in camera hearing, requested by the plaintiffs, made her angry. “I still cannot assess the collateral damage but I promise to keep you informed”, she said angrily, to the presiding judge, Bernard Lemaire. She continued, “People say it’s between consenting adults, we enjoy it, even." However, Jade had come to put things straight. “I don’t like the term ’easy money’ ”. She wore a light brown wig, glasses, scarf and a big black sweater. Now in her forties, she spoke in a soft voice, with clear and precise words, and delivered a revealing testimony of the world of prostitution.

“How did you start?” Bernard Lemaire asked her.

- In 2007, I had big financial worries, significant legal fees to pay for my divorce and two small children under school age. One evening, I opened my fridge (her voice wavered). It was empty, well nearly, I said to myself that I must do it... I was scared to death. I replied to an ad. I dialed the number seven or eight times before making the call...”

Jade then went to work in the bar of Belgian pimp, Dominique Alderweireld, where she met René Kojfer, the former public relations officer of the Carlton in Lille, now in the dock, who arranged for her to visit an apartment in Lille “three or four times”. She went there with three or four other girls. “When we arrived, there was often a bottle of champagne and sandwiches. The gentlemen, there would be three or four, made their choice. It was always the oldest (she indicated Hervé Franchois, owner of the Carlton), who chose first, he always took the youngest ones.”

“You liked to visit this apartment?” asked the presiding judge.

“It got me out of the club, where I had the immense privilege of living in a basement.”

Jade was paid €200 for sex. “Except one time, when René ( Kojfer) gave me €125 saying ’times are hard’.” And then, there was the incident in the Italian restaurant, where René Kojfer got girls to come to ’brighten’ the meal. The court was transfixed as Jade recalled. “There was a young girl, not even twenty years old. She had a lot to drink. From outside the toilet, I saw a queue of guys inside. That young girl was lying on the ground, on the tiles, she was dead drunk. She had her pants and panties around her knees. The waiter brought condoms. I don’t know how many men went with her. I couldn’t help her (she broke off).”

Today, Jade has been out of prostitution for five years, with the help of the “Mouvement du nid” (anti-prostitution group). “Without them, I wouldn’t be here”, she told the bench.

“What are your feelings towards the people appearing here today? asked the presiding judge.

" I don’t hold a grudge, I am not motivated by vengeance.”

In the afternoon, another ex-prostitute, Sonia (1), gave a brief testimony to the court, unable to hold back her tears. She was a receptionist before losing her job because of health problems and turned to occasional prostitution. “Nobody forced me, people only spoke of the good side of things. But I can tell you, Your Honour, there aren’t any good sides.”

[1Only the aliases of the women have been used.

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