Thursday, October 7, 1999

Ariel Teplitsky

p. B5.

Escort client list may become public

Ruling expected on release of women's names

A judge will decide today whether to make the list of clients of three Toronto escort agencies a public document, and therefore available to the media covering the trial of the alleged owner.

Mark Lukacko, 33, of Mississauga has pleaded not guilty to 15 prostitution-related charges during the five years the agencies were in business, from 1993 to 1998.

Earlier this week, the men who paid around $200 an hour to use the services of Sweet Escorts, Exotica and Sweet Sensations learned through the media that they could have been exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by three escorts who were suspected carriers.

The agencies' clients are mostly from Greater Toronto, including some of the more upscale addresses, such as the Kingsway in Etobicoke. There are names on the list, which can't be independently verified, that match those of National Hockey League players.

The list was taken from the company's computer records of hundreds of phone calls to the agency between December, 1996, and February, 1999.

The record of each call contains personal information on the client, such as his name, address, and what type of woman he wanted that evening.

Mr. Justice Harry Keenan of the Superior Court of Justice was also expected to rule on whether the names of the 25 female escorts can be made public, including the three women who might have been carriers of HIV when they worked for the agencies.

A lawyer from at least one media outlet, CITY-TV, will argue today that the media should be allowed to see the customer list.

Before the start of yesterday's proceedings, the judge made a caustic reference to the amount of media coverage of the trial, noting that he learned more from radio and newspaper reports than he did in his own courtroom following the first day of the trial on Tuesday.

"If this case is going to be tried by press conference, I'd like to be invited, so I can hear what's going on," he said.

It was a reference to the three escorts being possible carriers of HIV, information in the crown's case that hasn't been discussed yet in court.

The last list seized by police was from an escort agency called Fire and Desire, and contained the names of some 800 customers, as part of court documents in a trial last February. The list showed the female escorts were dispatched to just about every part of Toronto, from the waterfront to Yorkville to the Bridle Path.

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Created: March 28, 2000
Last modified: January 31, 2001
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