Women charged in alleged prostitution-extortion scandal that felled Laval mayor

LAVAL, Que. – Criminal charges have been laid against two women involved in an alleged prostitution scandal that brought down the mayor of Laval, Que.

The suburb’s interim mayor resigned last month, just hours after issuing a denial he’d had sex with a prostitute.

Alexandre Duplessis said at the time he had been the victim of an extortion attempt.

Now two women face criminal charges in the case.

Thirty-two-year-old Julie Cadieux and 44-year-old Nathalie Paquin were charged last Friday with extortion, break and enter and conspiracy.

They must appear in court Aug. 14.

Cadieux also faces a charge of drug possession, with intent to traffic. The prosecutor’s office alleges she was found in possession of methamphetamine.

Duplessis was mayor for barely half a year. He took over after longtime city boss Gilles Vaillancourt stepped down amid a corruption scandal last November after 23 years at the helm.

But Duplessis was swiftly gone, announcing his departure in a June 28 letter to the city clerk’s office.

This was after he had just told reporters he would not resign despite a controversy allegedly involving extortion and a prostitute.

“I never, never, never received sexual services,” Duplessis said at the time. “I did not solicit — I did not receive. I received nothing sexual. There was an attempt to extort me.”

It’s unclear what prompted the swift about-face.

But political rivals had spent the day urging him to step down. Media had also begun scrutinizing the denial from Duplessis, a father of two, that he had ever solicited sex.

One TV network carried two on-air interviews with a woman claiming to own the escort agency involved.

The woman said there were dozens of cellphone text messages from the client. She said the man had requested an escort for his remote country cottage.

She said the customer asked if he could wear women’s underwear, and whether the escort enjoyed white wine. When the woman’s employee finally found the cottage after getting lost, they dressed up together, put on high boots, and did makeup, said the self-described owner.

“He really wanted to spend an evening as if they were girlfriends,” said the agency boss, whose identity and face remained shielded during the interviews with the TVA network.

She said there was eventually a dispute about the $160-an-hour payment when the client wanted to take the woman out for a boat ride.

The owner said she was dragged into the dispute, and spoke to the man by phone. Eventually, she said, the client kicked the woman outside “right into the woods.”

The owner said she later spoke to provincial police and showed them the text messages, and said that only then did police inform her that the customer was the mayor of Laval. She told TVA that the police confirmed his identity through the cellphone number, and through other means but did not elaborate.

The network said there were 110 text messages and showed some of them on-screen.

Duplessis’ brief mayoral reign was also marred by testimony, at a provincial corruption inquiry, that he had participated in illegal political fundraising.

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