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The D.C. Madam Case, All Sordid Out

Deborah Jeane Palfrey in 2007. Now her former employees are being forced to go public.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey in 2007. Now her former employees are being forced to go public. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)

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By Dana Milbank
Friday, April 11, 2008

The alleged D.C. Madam once threatened the likes of a United States senator, a deputy secretary of state, and the man who created the war doctrine of "shock and awe." But the Madam's criminal trial this week has turned out to be less shock and awe than shock and ewww.

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Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and other powerful men appear likely to get a pass. Less lucky: the 15 terrified women being hauled by prosecutors into court to recount in graphic detail their past work as prostitutes -- and more than 100 other former prostitutes whose names prosecutors are trying to make public.

Wednesday, prosecutors forced a 63-year-old retired PhD -- her name, like those of other witnesses, now a matter of public record -- to testify about inducing orgasms in her client; the government's lawyers had similar questions for a mother of three who worked briefly for the escort service nearly 15 years ago.

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.


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