MONTREAL – This is the story of a 15 year old teenage girl who lied to make a quick buck and of a “sugar daddy” ready to “support” a “sugar baby” for sex. But above all, it is an unfortunate illustration of the “worrying trivialization of prostitution and the glorification of the commodification of male-female relations”.
This is how Judge Patricia Compagnone described the case of Bruno St-Pierre when he was acquitted last June. The 52-year-old Montrealer was accused of purchasing the sexual services of a minor, sexual assault, possession of child pornography and drug trafficking.
December 2018. St-Pierre contacts the victim on the SeekingArrangement.com site. The 15-year-old – who said she was 18 on her profile – is “looking for a sugar daddy”. This is not his first time as a “sugar baby”. She had already met three other men on the platform.
“Attracted by the possibility of making a quick buck, she agrees to meet men much older than her through the site. She also understands that she may need to have sexual contact with these men, ”Compagnone wrote in her June 18 decision.
From the start, St-Pierre had sexual contact with the teenager. But when they first met, it was mostly to determine if they had “chemistry”. The “sugar daddy” was willing to financially “support” a “sugar baby” up to $ 2,000 per month as part of their relationship.
“No need to hide the facts,” Compagnone said. This “support” is payment for sexual services.
The main reason St-Pierre was acquitted is that the victim repeatedly lied about her age to make her believe she was 18. The accused asked for his age when they first met. However, the teenager mentioned during the evening that she was on leave from college and was born in May 2000, revealing her real age.
“The victim clearly intended to mislead the accused as to his age. She doesn’t hide it. She wanted, she needed (emphasis added in judgment), for the accused to believe that she was 18 years old. So she did everything to make this happen, ”wrote Compagnone.
In this context, St-Pierre could “sincerely” believe that the victim was 18 years old, she added. Despite the acquittal, the judge nevertheless underlined the “moral responsibility” of the accused.
“Normalization of sexual exploitation”
The judge also called the SeekingArrangement.com dating platform at the heart of the lawsuit.
“(It’s) prostitution that hides its name,” she wrote in the first paragraph of her decision. Although the site appears to be legitimate, “let’s face it,” the judge said.
The SeekingArrangement.com site “promotes” relationships that “encourage the normalization of sexual exploitation by invoking economic logic,” writes Compagnone. “So by connecting young women and older ‘sweet dads’, women feel like they will have a romantic and sexual empowerment experience that will benefit them financially.”
“There is certainly a concern for vulnerable young women who might be tempted to participate in such a system given its financial appeal. This is the exact situation of the victim in this case. In short, it is an insidious way of commodifying sexual services, ”said the judge.
Harry-Pierre Étienne represented the prosecution, while Kaven Morasse defended the accused.