A Winnipeg mom met prospective new sex-trade employees for her brothel through her son who befriended them after working together at a telephone chat line for troubled youth, a Manitoba court has heard.
Police and justice officials uncovered this and other surprising details about the city’s sex-trade after being tipped to probe activities at the now-shuttered bordello on a quiet Wolseley street in June 2009.
A 48-year-old mother of two pleaded guilty yesterday to running a bawdy house. The Crown dropped other charges, including a count of corrupting children. The criminal case against the woman’s ex-husband was also quashed.
A publication ban prevents publishing any information identifying people at the heart of the high-profile case, including the woman’s children, who were 11 and 17 at the time of her arrest and lived in the home.
A system was in place to ensure the younger child wasn’t there when clients visited, court heard.
Following two weeks of surveillance, a police raid led to the seizure of business records showing the woman employed upwards of 12 sex-trade workers across various periods starting in early 2008.
The records included schedules of workers’ various shifts, along with financial ledgers and internet chat logs, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Deborah McCawley was told.
A handful of young adults agreed to go work at the brothel after being introduced to the woman by her son, said Crown attorney Michael Desautels. They worked together at a telephone help line for teens that is no longer in operation.
“They became friends with (him) … eventually has them over at the house and eventually there was introductions,” said Desautels. The discussions “raised the specter of what his mother did,” he said. “That led to a more direct conversation between (the woman) … about whether or not they’d be interested in being involved in that business.”
Defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg said the woman, who no longer lives in Winnipeg, opened the brothel after becoming “genuinely concerned for sex-trade workers and their plight,” at a young age.
The house was meant as a “safe haven” for the woman and others who chose to participate in the lifestyle, Roitenberg said.
McCawley reserved sentencing to a later date.