Calgary women wanting to be escorts are not discouraged from entering the trade and are made fully aware of the sexual nature of the industry before a city licence is granted, according to a former civilian who worked in the police vice unit.
“Was it clear that the line of work was sex for money?” asked Crown prosecutor David Torske.
“I think they knew, but we never specifically spoke about it,” said Kathryn Coonfer, whose job was to interview potential escorts before they could be granted a licence from the City of Calgary.
She told the court that, during the course of a five-page question and answer interview, the topic of sex was discussed with applicants, including their awareness of the sexual nature of the industry.
Potential escorts were also told to pick up a copy of the city bylaw that regulates the trade and made aware that communication for the purpose of prostitution is a criminal offence.
Court also heard that during the seven or eight years Coonfer fulfilled that role for the city police vice unit, she interviewed “countless” potential escorts.
“Would it be in the thousands?” asked defence lawyer Pat Fagan.
“Probably yes” replied Coonfer.
Fagan’s client, the accused is on trial for his involvement with an escort agency named Liaisons Escorts and Entertainment. Fagan is asking Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Patrick Sullivan to stay all of the charges against the accused, which include living off the avails of prostitution and keeping a bawdy-house, because he contends the city has legitimized prostitution by licensing escorts and the agencies they work for.
The 40-year-old former firefighter was arrested on Oct. 26, 2002, after police received a public complaint about Liaisons and the fact that escorts were involved in the business of sex for money. He was rearrested on Jan. 27, 2003 after another complaint involving a scheme that saw prostitutes sent to work in the sex trade in Vancouver.
A former receptionist and driver at Liaisons testified Tuesday about one escort the accused sent to Vancouver.
Court heard the two women, who can’t be identified because of a court order, got together in a downtown apartment in December 2002 to exchange Christmas presents. The escort told her that she had to go to Vancouver for a date.
“(the accused) sent her to make some money for him,” she said, adding the accused was getting “money-hungry.”
“I told her it wasn’t a good idea,” she recalled between tears.
The escort’s mom, who has been in court since the trial began, said outside court that her daughter committed suicide while she was there.
It’s expected that next week, police from Vancouver, as well as the dead escort’s date, will testify.
The trial continues today.