Colombia prostitute in Secret Service scandal speaks


Independence Beauty Peagent in Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 11, 2010.


Joaquin Sarmiento

The woman at the center of a US Secret Service prostitution scandal has spoken to The New York Times.

She told the Times the dispute that triggered the scandal, which overshadowed the Summit of the Americas, was over $770.

The woman is a 24-year-old single mother, the Times said. She declined to give the Times her full name.

A Secret Service agent offered her $30 for services, but she said they agreed she would be provided $800. Eventually, after the man's friends and colleagues pitched in, she left the hotel with about $225, the Times said. 

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The higher than perhaps expected price reflects that she is a high-end escort and not a prostitute, the woman told the Times. 

"You have higher rank,” the Times quoted her as saying. “An escort is someone who a man can take out to dinner. She can dress nicely, wear nice makeup, speak and act like a lady. That’s me.”

The dispute erupted early the morning of April 12, after a night of drinking at a strip club. The woman is among the 20 or 21 women American agents and military personnel in Colombia ahead of the summit are believed to have brought back to their hotel. 

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A day after the dispute, the 11 Secret Service agents allegedly involved were summoned home by Washington and placed on administrative leave. On Monday they lost their security clearances. 

Late Wednesday, the Secret Service said three agents will leave the agency, The Associated Press reported.

One agent is being fired, one is retiring and a third is resigning.

"It's certainly not over," Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said, according to the AP.

Secret Service director Mark Sullivan took action against "the three people he believes the case was clearest against," King told the AP.

King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee that oversees the Secret Service.

The number of military personnel being investigated has risen to 11 and includes five Army Green Berets, two Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians, two Marine dog handlers and an Air Force airman, the Associated Press reported

US lawmakers are already calling for investigations into the agents' conduct. While prostitution is tolerated in Colombia, hiring a prostitute is against the rules for US Secret Service agents. 

The agents and service members were in Cartagena to handle security preparations for the summit, which drew near 30 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama. 

Eight other agents involved are still being investigated, The New York Times reported late Wednesday.

According to The Times, the Secret Service asked agents involved to take lie-detector tests, but only one has agreed.

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