Strauss-Kahn, former IMF boss, cleared of prostitution charges


A French court cleared Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former head of the International Monetary Fund, of pimping charges.

Three judges of the Correctional Tribunal of the northern French city of Lille determined Friday that Strauss-Kahn, who is Jewish, did not promote or profit from the prostitution of seven women as prosecutors charged based on police investigations that began in 2011 into an alleged prostitution network at Lille’s smart Hotel Carlton.

Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from the IMF following allegations of sex crimes, said he has sought “recreation” from the stress of world politics by having rough sex with strangers at orgies in Europe and the United States, but he denied any knowledge of the women’s employment as sex workers, AFP reported.

The judges said there was no proof he knew that some of the women he had sex with at orgies were prostitutes. Throughout his trial, he maintained that he had not known that some of the partners brought to him by business friends at group-sex sessions had been paid, saying he thought they were merely “swingers” like himself. The businessmen told the women who had sex with Strauss-Kahn not to say they had been paid.

Strauss-Kahn’s name came up during interrogations conducted by police with others implicated in the prostitution ring. The trial focused international attention on the sex life of Strauss-Kahn, who was married at the time. His ex-wife, Anne Sinclair, divorced him in 2013 following his investigation and indictment. Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist, was once considered a leading candidate for the French presidency.

Two sex workers said Strauss-Kahn forced them to have anal sex with him. He said he penetrated them consensually.

In New York, a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, complained in 2011 that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her, but prosecutors dropped criminal charges after investigating her claims. Strauss-Kahn settled a civil action with her out of court. Fabrice Paszkowski, 47, who was a close friend of Strauss-Kahn, was also cleared on pimping charges, as was David Roquet, a building contractors who also attended orgies with Strauss-Kahn. Also cleared was Jean-Christophe Lagarde, 50, a Lille police chief.

Judge tosses woman’s lawsuit alleging forced sex with Dershowitz, Prince Andrew


A federal judge tossed out a woman’s lawsuit claiming that she had forced sex with high-profile men, including Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew.

The woman, referred to as Jane Doe #3 in a lawsuit charging preferential treatment for Jeffrey Epstein in granting the billionaire financier a plea deal for state prostitution charges rather than federal prosecution, alleged that she worked as a sex slave for Epstein from the time she was 15. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two Florida state solicitation-of-prostitution charges.

Dershowitz, who had helped defend Epstein against the prostitution charges, has vehemently denied the claims and has shown he was not in the places where the acts were said to have taken place.

District Court Judge Kenneth Marra on Tuesday appeared to be sympathetic to Dershowitz’s claims, Politico reported, but did not rely on his denials.

“The factual details regarding with whom and where the Jane Does engaged in sexual activities are immaterial and impertinent to this central claim … especially considering that these details involve non-parties who are not related to the respondent Government. These unnecessary details shall be stricken,” Marra wrote in his decision.

Dershowitz told Politico that the ruling in West Palm Beach, Fla., was a “complete legal vindication.”

The judge also rejected Dershowitz’s request to sanction the lawyers who filed the motion, who he had threatened to have disbarred.

Adelson lawsuit describes pressure on NJDC to apologize


Sheldon Adelson’s $60 million defamation lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council describes extensive efforts by his representatives, including Alan Dershowitz, to talk the group into apologizing for intimating that the casino magnate approved of prostitution.

The 16-page lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York.

Lawyers for Adelson, one of the worlds’ wealthiest men, a major Republican donor and among the largest U.S. givers to Jewish and Israeli causes, had sent a warning letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month after each body quoted news reports alleging that Adelson had approved of prostitution at his properties in Macau, China.

The allegation appeared in a lawsuit filed by a former Adelson employee, Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson’s Macau business until he was fired in 2010.

The DCCC apologized last week for referencing the allegation in news releases sent June 22 and July 2.

Under pressure from Jewish groups, the NJDC removed an online petition calling on Republicans to stop accepting money from Adelson—but it would not apologize.

“We don’t believe we engaged in character assassination,” said the July 11 statement announcing the petition’s removal and signed by NJDC President David Harris and Chairman Marc Stanley, who also are named in Adelson’s lawsuit. “We stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts.”

Instead, Stanley and Harris said, they were removing the petition in the name of “shalom bayit,” the Hebrew term for peace in the home.

The original NJDC petition had cited an Associated Press story quoting parts of the Jacobs lawsuit. Nothing in the AP story aside from the quote from the Jacobs lawsuit validated the prostitution claim.

The AP story notes that federal investigators are interested in claims by Jacobs in the lawsuit that Adelson’s business authorized bribes to Chinese officials. In addition to the prostitution allegation, the NJDC petition cited the bribery investigations as well as Adelson’s clashes with unions to bolster its claim that Adelson’s money was “dirty.”

Adelson’s publicist, Ron Reese, had no immediate comment, but the lawsuit suggests that the NJDC’s non-apology made matters worse. The lawsuit cites not just the July 3 petition but the July 11 statement removing the petition to make its case. The claim by Harris and Stanley that they “stand by” what they described as “credible news accounts” was in itself “false and defamatory,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit details how, through an interlocutor, Adelson tried to show Harris that Jacobs was lying. It quoted what it said was a 2009 email from Jacobs to Michael Leven, Adelson’s chief operating officer, asking whether Adelson had approved of prostitution. The lawsuit does not quote the email at length or explain why Jacobs would make such a query, but it does quote him as saying that allowing prostitution would “seem at odds with what I know to be Sheldon’s ‘no tolerance’ policy.”

Leven responds the next day, May 12, 2009, and says “there is no evidence that can be found that anyone here supported in anyway (sic) a different policy than we have in las vegas (sic).”

The lawsuit says that Harris was contacted after the July 3 petition was posted and that the email exchange between Jacobs and Leven was described to him.

Alan Dershowitz, the prominent First Amendment lawyer and Harvard professor, told JTA on Wednesday that he was the interlocutor who reached out to Harris on Adelson’s behalf.

“I had a conversation with David Harris in which I personally told him the same man whom they quote as having made the allegation in an email had said he doesn’t believe the allegation to be true,” Dershowitz said.

Jacobs’ email, at least as quoted in the lawsuit, does not address the veracity of the prostitution allegation; it only notes that the allegation would seem at odds with Adelson’s stated policies. Harris would not comment on his conversation with Dershowitz.

Dershowitz, a Democrat who was among the notable Jewish individuals who had called on Harris and NJDC to rescind the petition as soon as it appeared, said Harris’ refusal to apologize disqualifies him to represent Democrats or Jews.

“He is now doing more harm to Democrats and the Jewish community than good. They are willfully spreading a ‘lashon hora’ that they know to be false,” Dershowitz said, using the Hebrew term for malicious gossip.

Dershowitz said he could not comment on the freedom of speech merits of the NJDC case because he may be called upon to act as a witness should the lawsuit go to trial.

Organizations associated with Adelson have paid Dershowitz twice: for speaking at the Jewish day school founded by Adelson and his wife, Miriam, in Las Vegas, and as a lawyer helping to represent Adelson’s Venetian casino in its efforts to keep union picketers off sidewalks adjacent to the hotel. The Venetian lost that 2001 case, which Dershowitz said occurred before he met Adelson.

“The work he does for Jewish education is unmatched,” Dershowitz said.

Adelson seems particularly galled in the lawsuit by the prostitution allegation because of the work he and his wife fund in Israel to rehabilitate prostitutes.

“The Adelson clinics work to support these women, provide them with drug abuse treatment, and end their involvement in prostitution,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit notes Adelson’s continued efforts to have the NJDC stand down, including the July 17 warning letter, and then outreach from Adelson’s lawyers to the NJDC on Aug. 3 to note the DCCC apology issued the day before.

The NJDC said in a statement Wednesday announcing the lawsuit that it would stand its ground.

“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures—as we did—is wholly appropriate,” NJDC said in the statement. “Indeed, it is both an American and a Jewish obligation to ask hard questions of powerful individuals like Mr. Adelson, just as it is incumbent upon us to praise his wonderful philanthropic endeavors.”

The statement called Adelson’s lawsuit a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtaining justice but silence.

“We know that we were well within our rights, and we will defend ourselves against this SLAPP suit as far and as long as necessary,” NJDC said. “We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced.”

Bad blood between Harris and Adelson runs deeper than the usual Republican-Democrat square-off. Harris appeared at the Jewish Federations of North America TribeFest gathering in Las Vegas for young leaders on March 25 as a surrogate in a debate on the merits of the presidential candidates. Adelson walked into the event, which took place at his Venetian hotel, and berated Harris for six minutes, using insulting terms to describe Obama and harrumphing out loud when Harris attempted to respond.

Late Wednesday, NJDC blasted followers with an email fundraising off the lawsuit.

“Your support at this moment is more important than ever,” said the email, which carried the subject line “We’ve been sued for $60 million.”

Strauss-Kahn held in French prositution probe


Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was questioned by police on Tuesday over his dealings with an alleged prostitution ring that was run from the northern French city of Lille and organised sex parties in Paris, Brussels and Washington.

Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister seen as a strong contender for France’s 2012 presidential election until a sexual assault case in New York last May brought his ambitions to an abrupt halt, was to remain in police custody overnight and could be held until Thursday morning.

The investigation is focused on a prostitution ring that allegedly supplied clients of Lille’s luxury Carlton hotel. Police want to establish whether Strauss-Kahn knew that women at parties he attended in Paris and Washington were prostitutes.

He could be deemed free of suspicion, or may be placed under formal investigation for benefitting from misappropriated company funds if investigators conclude that he attended sex sessions with prostitutes that company executives used expense accounts to pay for.

Either way, he could face an uncomfortably timed release from custody on Thursday, with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who he once dreamed of ousting from power, due to arrive in Lille that day for a pre-planned election campaign visit.

Strauss-Kahn made no comment to a crush of reporters and photographers as he arrived by car for questioning early on Tuesday at Lille police station.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, quit his International Monetary Fund post after he was accused last May of trying to rape a New York chambermaid, although criminal charges were later dropped.

Linked later to the Lille affair, Strauss-Kahn asked to speak to police about the case.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer Henri Leclerc has said his client had no reason to think the women were prostitutes.

“People are not always clothed at these parties. I challenge you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a classy lady in the nude,” Leclerc told French radio in December.

LIVING IN THE SHADOWS

Eight people, including two Lille businessmen close to Strauss-Kahn and a police commissioner, have been arrested in the case, and construction firm Eiffage fired an executive suspected of using company funds to hire sex workers.

Using prostitutes is not illegal in France, but Strauss-Kahn risks being charged if investigators decide he knowingly had sex with prostitutes paid for out of company funds.

Belgian pimp Dominique Alderweireld, who often appears in French media under his nickname “Dodo la Saumure”, told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday that Strauss-Kahn might not have given much thought to who, if anyone, had paid the women at the parties.

“It wasn’t his problem. All he was interested in was having sex. That’s it,” he said.

Strauss-Kahn is quoted in a biography by Michel Taubmann published last year that he had taken part in “libertine soirees” but was disgusted by the idea of prostitutes and pimping. “It’s not my thing,” he said.

“Usually, people at these soirees are not prostitutes,” Strauss-Kahn is quoted as saying. “When somebody introduces you to his girlfriend, you don’t ask him if she’s a prostitute.”

While his wife Anne Sinclair has revived her career as a journalist with a new job as news editor at an upcoming French-language version of the Huffington Post, Strauss-Kahn has gone from a life at the heart of France’s intellectual and social elite to living largely in the shadows.

Photographed occasionally out and about in Paris, recently in a scruffy dark grey anorak, he is starting to make a comeback on the international speech circuit but is otherwise rarely seen on the social circuit.

He is often parodied on “Les Guignols”, a television programme that uses puppets to satirise politicians, portrayed as a skirt-chaser always wearing a leopard-print bathrobe.

Attempted-rape accusations brought against Strauss-Kahn last year by a Parisian writer were shelved by police in October.

The New York maid is pursuing a civil action against him.

Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Louise Ireland and Daniel Flynn

Letters to the Editor: JCC closure, Kosher Jesus and prostitution


Effects of JCC Closure Widely Felt

Every morning I take my kids to school at The JCC at Milken. As we enter the Early Childhood Center, we are greeted by the teachers, the secretary and the director, who have become family through the years.

We are in disbelief and frustrated that this great place that we know and love will be shutting its doors to our kids, to us, to the teachers and faculty, to the seniors who have a place that cares for them (“Seniors Angry Over Plans to Close JCC,” Feb. 10). We are being sold out. 

As Jewish people we are bound to stick together, because of our past and for our future generations. We do not turn our backs and do not close doors.

Nir Shemer
via e-mail


These seniors are us. These are the people who paid the memberships, tuitions, the bills, raised the funds for the synagogues, Jewish Federation, Jewish schools as part of the Jewish community in their peak earning years. These are the people who bought the land that the sharpies are trading away. These are the older generation that is now being segregated away from the multigenerational contact that a JCC provides.  These are the seniors who provided and protected our public good all their lives and are now being deprived of it along with many other vulnerable segments of the Jewish and general community. Their slogan is written in Psalms 17: Do not abandon me in my old age.

Save the JCCs.

Pini Herman
via jewishjournal.com.


Expand Our Embrace of Converts

I share Rob Eshman’s opinion that the Jewish future will be greatly enhanced by truly welcoming all those who feel drawn to Judaism and the timeless truth of its teachings (“The Embrace,” Feb. 10).

At my synagogue, Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood, we are in the midst of a dramatic reinvigoration since welcoming an influx of congregants of Sephardic descent, primarily from Central America, who wished to learn and participate in our beloved Jewish rituals. Rabbi Robert Elias is currently teaching a third conversion class at our synagogue, and Shabbat attendance, not long ago less than 20, now averages over 60. The devotion of our new members is remarkable, and they have transformed our synagogue into a vibrant, diverse and certainly unique congregation.

A miracle, perhaps?

Harvey Shield, president
Temple Knesset Israel of Hollywood


You’ve written a moving and important article about embracing converts. The eyewitness account of the young boy reciting the Kiddush provides a convincing snapshot to show that when it comes to conversion, the Jewish people’s imports are better than our exports.

I hope you will write additional articles on the subject of conversion, especially about how the idea of embracing converts can become more widespread among American Jews.

Larry Epstein
via e-mail


Another View of Jesus

When Shmuley Boteach released his book “Kosher Jesus,” he expected to be throttled by the Christian community but instead was metaphorically “spat upon” by many within the Jewish community (“A Jesus Even Jews Can Love?” Feb. 10). Rather than acting like barbarians, let’s be civil and come to terms with the fact that Jesus has been one of the world’s foremost promoters of love, peace and tolerance. We may not accept him as the Son of God, but why overlook the fact that he was a religious Jewish rabbi and teacher, who, throughout his short life, relied upon, believed in and emphatically encouraged the study of Torah. What’s so bad about that?

Richard David
Culver City


Who Is the Real Criminal?

Gili Varon needs to reassess her evaluation of the criminalizing of prostitution (“Israel Must Criminalize Purchase of Sex,” Feb. 10). Perhaps if those responsible for the conditions that create the need for prostitution as a financial source for survival were held as criminals there would be no need for prostitution.

Paulette Mansfield
Reseda


Jewish Summer Camp’s Benefits Are Numerous

I was mentioned in Gerald Freisleben’s article (“An Appreciation to Summers Spent in Paradise,” Jan. 27)  as one of the wonderful wives of his camp friends. As a pediatrician and specialist in adolescent behavior and emotional development, let me offer a professional translation into the truly invaluable meaning, depth of connection and enduring worth that immersion in the Jewish summer camp experience offers. Not only is camp a great place to form lifelong friendships, it is an inoculation against teenage angst and deleterious risk taking, and a remedy for current teen disillusion. Twenty-first-century teens need help learning to tolerate boredom and distress safely, and to experience social life as real human interactions and not screen versions. Camp is that place.

Sharon Pollock
Encino

Israel advances bill aimed at halting prostitution


A Knesset committee unanimously approved a bill that would levy severe punishment on consumers of sexual services in Israel.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation advanced the measure to the full Knesset on Sunday; a preliminary vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Under the bill, first-time offenders are required to attend a class on public health that would include presentations by former prostitutes. Repeat offenders could face six months in prison.

Based on laws that have been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and most recently in France, the model works on the principle that in order to combat sex trafficking and prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.

The Kadima Party’s Orit Zuaretz, the chair of the Knesset’s Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women, introduced the bill.

More than 15,000 individuals are estimated to be working in the prostitution industry in Israel, including 5,000 minors.

Israel must criminalize purchase of sex


In Israel, an estimated 15,000 individuals are involved in prostitution, including 5,000 under the age of 18, according to reports shared with the Task Force on Human Trafficking by Knesset member Orit Zuaretz of the Kadima Party, as well as other experts and activists. The reports say that the average age of entry is just 14 and that more than 90 percent of those involved in prostitution in Israel are subject to severe physical abuse, often by their clients.

Justifications abound for having prostitution be legal. Some claim that prostitution is a source of easy money or that its lengthy history points to its inevitable continuity. There’s even the dubious claim that it is a necessary conduit allowing men to fulfill their biological needs. Such myths clash dramatically with the truth and conceal a sordid underworld of violence, rape and the worst forms of abuse.

Merely utilizing terms such as “employment” and “profession” to describe prostitution lends credence to a system that preys on women who have faced severe physical and emotional oppression. More than 80 percent of women in prostitution have been sexually or physically abused in their youth, often by family members, according to reports shared with the task force. Entry is not a matter of choice but an unwitting endpoint in a cycle of abuse and despair.

Even with its recent decline — attributed to pressure from civil society organizations and the United States — Israel remains a destination country for human trafficking. The industry thrives on the vulnerable and exploits the troubled past of victims of abuse.

So why, especially if the negatives are even more disturbing than we had imagined, is this practice allowed to continue — with emphasis on the word “allowed”? For in the most basic sense, not enough has been done to combat an “industry” that thrives on the degradation and abuse of women and is supported by human traffickers. Allowed because though it is illegal to traffic human beings, run a brothel or work as a pimp, becoming a “consumer” of prostitution is still legal in Israel.

Essentially, though it is illegal to sell women, buying them is deemed acceptable. Though the world of prostitution is a hub for physical abuse, the transmission of fatal diseases and the restriction of freedom, it is still legal to fuel this horrid practice. The result should come as no surprise.

With no attempt to reduce demand, there is a constant incentive for criminal bodies to provide the supply. Targeting pimps and brothel owners is simply not enough, as evidenced by an average of more than 1 million brothel visits every month in Israel and a trade that accounts for more than $500 million each year, according to the reports.

Some argue that regulation and control of prostitution is needed, not prohibition. It’s a route that could provide for safer environments, less criminal involvement and an end to human trafficking. However, when such laws were enacted in Germany and Holland, conditions for women failed to improve and the laws were proven to be abject failures.

On Feb. 12, Zuaretz will bring a law to the Knesset that places criminal responsibility on those who purchase sexual services. What’s more, the legislation, which was proposed in 2010 to a ministerial hearing and is based on a law that has been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and, most recently, France, would allow Israel to join the ranks of those nations working tirelessly toward a world free of modern slavery.

The result of this legislative action speaks of far more than simply whether we Israelis will choose to punish individuals who perpetuate these crimes. It will ask us to determine where we as a society stand in a debate centered on how we appropriate human rights. Do we feel that all individuals deserve liberty and justice, or have we set criteria that ultimately strip those less fortunate of the opportunities that freedom entails?

The challenge has been issued, but whether Israel decides to place itself on the right side of history has yet to be determined.

Gili Varon, an attorney, is the director of the Task Force on Human Trafficking, a joint project with ATZUM that aims to engage the Israeli public and government agencies to confront and eradicate modern slavery in Israel.

Demonstrations to press Israel on prostitution


Demonstrations to put international pressure on Israeli lawmakers to criminalize the purchase of sexual services in Israel are set to be held in four major cities worldwide.

Organized by the ATZUM-Justice Works social activism organization, the protests will be held Feb. 5 outside the Israeli Embassy and Consulate buildings in New York, Washington and London, as well as the Knesset in Jerusalem.

The demonstrations are expected to show support for a bill to be voted on Feb. 12 by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation that would levy severe punishment on consumers of sexual services in Israel.

The legislation, proposed by Orit Zuaretz of the Kadima Party, is based on laws that have been enacted in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and most recently in France. The model works on the principle that in order to effectively combat sex trafficking and prostitution, the demand for sexual services must be confronted.

“Simply put, prostitution is a form of modern slavery and must be eradicated—not just in Israel but throughout the world,” said Rabbi Levi Lauer, founding executive director of ATZUM.

“The time has come for our society to stop tolerating the purchase of sexual services. There must be real consequences in place for those who purchase sex to the great detriment of women, children and Israeli society as a whole.”

More than 15,000 individuals are estimated to be working in the prostitution industry in Israel, including 5,000 minors.

Strauss-Kahn wants hearing in French prostitution scandal


Dominique Strauss-Kahn reportedly is urging French magistrates to speak with him as soon as possible about a prostitution scandal in which he has been implicated.

Dubbed “The Carlton Affair,” the scandal involves the luxury Carlton Hotel, a Lille establishment that reportedly supplied prostitutes to its guests. Strauss-Kahn’s name has surfaced in connection with text messages discovered during the course of the investigation, which reportedly intensified last week. The prostitution scandal was discovered earlier this year.

“From the moment his name appeared in the so-called ‘Carlton Affair’ on Oct. 9, Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to be heard as fast as possible by the magistrates leading the judicial inquiries,” said his lawyer, Frederique Baulieu. “A month has passed without him being heard, and the media lynching has snowballed during that time.”

An executive from a public works company, who was one of eight people arrested in connection with the scandal, reportedly organized corporate hospitality events that included time with prostitutes. Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, allegedly was present at the events.

In France, prostitution is legal, but organizing prostitution is illegal.

The allegations against Strauss-Kahn, who is Jewish, come in the wake of his arrest in the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid in New York in May. The charges were later dropped, but the scandal forced him to resign from the IMF and dashed his hopes of becoming the next president of France.

Documentary explores UCLA alumna’s past as a child prostitute


In David Sauvage’s documentary short, “Carissa,” a 31-year-old graduate of UCLA’s law and business schools visits a rundown hotel on Fresno’s “motel drive,” where underage girls work the streets. “I feel so torn up that I come back here and it’s still the same, or worse,” Carissa Phelps says. When she herself was 12, and homeless and hungry, a man brought her to this motel after buying her a hot dog and a Pepsi. So began her life as a prostituted child, when she was exploited by a number of men, including a pimp who brutally raped her.

The 23-minute film, which screens with other shorts during DocuWeek Aug. 22-28 at the ArcLight Hollywood, also recounts how a juvenile hall counselor saw potential in Phelps and encouraged her to keep a journal. It recalls how the counselor and other teachers praised Phelps when she taught herself algebra from a textbook and how they encouraged her to turn her life around. The short also describes how Phelps eventually earned an MBA and a law degree in order to help prostituted children and how she now works as an activist and fundraiser to clean up motel drive and transform the surrounding neighborhood.

The powerful but unsentimental movie, which was executive produced by Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”), is one of four shorts to screen at DocuWeek, the International Documentary Association’s showcase of qualifying films for Academy Award consideration. Another short, “Baghdad Twist,” chronicles a Jewish family’s past in Iraq.

In a phone interview from Fresno, Phelps — whose mother is of Jewish descent — said she had never told the entirety of her story to anyone before she met Sauvage in a study group at UCLA’s graduate business school three years ago.

“I would start shaking, and couldn’t speak,” she said of past efforts. “But I knew I wanted to go back to motel drive with a camera. Somehow, I needed to have my story documented.”

Her chance came when she heard Sauvage say he intended to create financing for a movie as his summer MBA project in 2005. “You should make your movie about me,” she told him. Sauvage, who at the time did not know she had been abused, cavalierly replied that unless she had been a child prostitute, he wasn’t interested.

It was a flip response, but Phelps said, she nevertheless intuited that Sauvage was the right person to tell her story.

“I thought David was essentially kind, a great storyteller, and that he was coming from the right place,” she said. “And a big part of that had to do with his family background.”

The director is the son of filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, whose 1988 documentary, “Weapons of the Spirit,” describes the town in France where 5,000 Christians saved 5,000 Jews from the Nazis, including Pierre and his parents. When David was growing up, the Holocaust and rescuers were frequent topics of discussion at home. As a teenager, David found the conversations all too frequent, which gave him a kind of cynicism but also a moral prism through which to view the world.

The childhood discussions “awoke me … to the horrors of which people are capable, [and they] probably had a lot to do with my reaction when Carissa came to me with her story,” Sauvage said. “I was moved, yes, but I was not entirely shocked. In fact, it was my nonchalance that I think enabled us to move forward. Carissa knew she had in me someone who could understand the darkest parts of her story without flinching.”

Phelps said that because her mother was “adopted out” to a non-Jewish family, getting to know the Sauvages “was a chance to connect to a culture I never got to be a part of.” Going back to Fresno for production, however, proved challenging for Phelps. She said the film’s cinematographer had to drive her to the motel drive location because she physically couldn’t force her body to steer in that direction.

Eventually, she was able to speak on camera (Sauvage said he modeled his interviewing techniques on those of his father, “who knows how to let a moment breathe”). Phelps described how her mother dumped her at juvenile hall when she was 12 and how caring staff at another facility helped her start to believe in herself.

Sauvage also interviewed one of Phelps’ pimps, who said johns didn’t care that Phelps was 13; as well as the woman who recruited Phelps to work for an even more violent pimp (who is now serving 144 years in prison).

Both Phelps and Sauvage believe the film focuses less on Phelps’s victimization than her rescuers and her own desire to help at-risk girls. “In a very real and strange sense, I was tackling my father’s theme on a much smaller scale,” Sauvage said.

For more information about “Carissa,” which screens as part of the Program B Shorts at ArcLight Hollywood, and DocuWeek programs at the ArcLight Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, visit http://www.documentary.org/content/docuweek-los-angeles andwww.carissaproject.com


The trailer

Israeli twist emerges in Spitzer sex scandal


A fast-rising Democratic governor, an out-of-control sex drive and an Israeli enabler — it feels like deja vu all over again on the Hudson.

Just four years after the then-governor of New Jersey, James McGreevey, resigned amid revelations of an affair with his Israeli-born ex-homeland security chief, Golan Cipel, Americans again were treated to the spectacle of the governor of a large Northeastern state standing alongside a grim-looking wife and admitting he had erred.

The New York Times broke the news that the anti-crime crusader was allegedly involved in a prostitution ring.

“I have acted in a way that violated the obligations to my family and that violates my — or any — sense of right and wrong,” said New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, 48, in a short statement to reporters on Monday afternoon. “I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better.”

Mark Brener, the alleged pimp at the center of the prostitution scandal engulfing Spitzer, is an Israeli.

It was not immediately clear if Spitzer would resign.

Spitzer, a Jewish lawyer, built his career as an anti-crime, anti-corruption crusader. Most of his cases were high-profile Wall Street targets, but during his eight-year stint as state attorney general, Spitzer’s office also investigated at least two Jewish organizations, the National Council of Young Israel and the World Jewish Congress.

In both cases, Spitzer’s office found what it deemed examples of misused funds and reached an agreement limiting the future involvement of a longtime leader of the organization in question.

What will happen to Spitzer is unclear, but the scene Monday had echoes of McGreevey’s downfall — not least because of the coincidence of an Israeli connection. In fact, Brener’s nationality reportedly accounts for why he remains in jail.

Of the four charged in the federal prostitution case brought last week, only Brener was denied bail. U.S. Magistrate Michael Dolinger cited the $600,000 in cash and the Israeli passport found in Brener’s home as proof of his flight risk.

Brener’s lawyer told the Associated Press that he has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years.

Brener allegedly ran the Emperors VIP Club, described by police as a high-priced prostitution ring in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London. Clients rated the prostitutes with diamonds on the club’s Web site. Top-rated prostitutes could demand thousands, with the club taking more than 50 percent in commission fees.

In the case described in the warrant involving “Client 9” — reported by The New York Times to be Spitzer — the client requested a prostitute on Feb. 12. He was in Washington at a hotel; the service would send a prostitute down from New York.

Client 9’s account was low on cash — down to about $400, according to wiretaps cited in the warrant — suggesting that he had used the service before. He would pay an additional $2,600 for his time with “Kristen,” an amount that apparently included her train fare and travel time, and give her some extra cash toward the next encounter.

According to the warrant, they met at the hotel the next night, Feb. 13. Sometime after midnight — in the first minutes of Valentine’s Day — Kristen called Temeka Rachelle Lewis, Brener’s alleged co-conspirator, to tell her the encounter had gone “very well.”

Republicans already are calling on Spitzer, once touted as presidential material, to resign. Whether he does so depends on what Democrats say and whether he is charged in the case.

Two Republican U.S. senators recently embroiled in sex scandals have not resigned. David Vitter of Louisiana allegedly frequented a prostitute but was never charged. Larry Craig of Idaho pleaded guilty last year to soliciting gay sex in a bathroom but is now trying to reverse the plea.

McGreevey did resign and wrote a book about his experiences, aimed partly at encouraging other gays to come out. Cipel still denies that he is gay or that he was McGreevey’s lover; he claims the governor harassed him.

Based on the warrant, it doesn’t seem as if the Spitzer controversy will go away: Recorded comments by Kristen and Lewis suggest there is more sordid information to come.

During a conversation in which Kristen insisted that she liked Client 9, Lewis said she had heard that he “would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.”

Kristen responded, “I have a way of dealing with that,” adding later, “I’d be like, listen dude, you really want the sex?…. You know what I mean.”

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