San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pimp Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison, Alleged Clients of Young Call Girls Investigated

JUDGES sentenced Costa Rican prostitute SinaíMonge to eight years in prison this week after finding herguilty of heading a ring of underage prostitutes and offeringthem to some of Costa Rica’s elite businessmen, sportsheroes and politicians.Observers, including Child Welfare Minister RosalíaGil, expressed disappointment with the sentence,announced Monday. Prosecutors had asked for 16 years.Paul Chaves, investigations director with the PublicSecurity Ministry’s sex crimes police, said the prevailingopinion among police is that the sentence is a disappointingslap on the wrist because the evidence was stacked highenough to make an example out of Monge.“IT’S not a good message for all the people that aredoing this in Costa Rica,” Chaves told The Tico Times.“Sinaí (Monge) became very famous but there are otherpeople doing this kind of thing.”Similar prostitution rings exist around the country, headded.Gil, head of the Child Welfare Office (PANI),expressed her frustation at President Abel Pacheco’s weeklyCabinet meeting Tuesday.“We maintain that the maximum penalties should begiven” in cases involving underage prostitution, she said, “but we can’t interfere in a judge’s decision.”THE case may be one of the most sensationalsex crimes trials in recent memory,and boxes of business cards, day plannersand photos of dozens of allegedclients of Monge’s underage girls heightenedinterest in the high-profile case.“This was an unusual case, not becauseof the profile of Sinaí (Monge) – she waslike any other pimp – but because of thelist (of possible clients),” Chaves said.That list piqued at least one legislator’scuriosity – Carlos Avendaño, president ofthe Legislative Assembly’s Commissionfor Children and Adolescents, asked prosecutorsfor a copy of it.Chaves said he doubts they will complybecause the investigation is still under wayand prosecutors wouldn’t want any leaks.GIL said her office has sent a requestto Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anesethat the list of Monge’s alleged clients beinvestigated “more in depth.”She emphasized the importance of“attacking the demand, or in other words,the clients. If there were no clients… theproblem would decrease.”She also appealed to the public, askingpeople to contact the Prosecutor’s Officewith evidence or leads.“Proof exists,” she said. “The issue isthat no one has brought it to us.”Though journalists were sworn tosecrecy about names mentioned during thetrial, and neither the judges nor the prosecutorssought names from witnesses,guesses and hints as to who among thecountry’s celebrities might have beeninvolved proliferate in the media’s gossipchannels.Foreigners, includingNorth Americans,Colombiansand Panamanians,and an official fromthe Judicial InvestigationPolice (OIJ)who may have paidfor Monge’s services,are amongthose implicated(TT, Feb. 18).Prosecutors haved confirmed they areinvestigating the alleged clients.FOLLOWING the trial, Monge’ssenior defense attorney, FranciscoArguedas, told members of the press, “Shesaid she feels guilty about what she hasdone, and, I haven’t talked to her about it,but I can imagine she feels relief facing aneight-year sentence. It could be worse.”According to head judge Johnny Mejía,who read Monge’s sentence Monday morning,evidence shows that in the case of threeemployees, identified only as Karla, Gladysand Mary Ann, Monge was fully aware theywere underage.Monge also was ordered to pay ¢5 million(approximately $10,900) in moraldamages to Mary Ann, and ¢510,000($1,200) in legal fees.Monge and her father-and-son defenseteam have 15 days from the sentencing toappeal the decision, after which the PenalBranch of the Supreme Court (Sala III) hasan indefinite period in which to respond.Arguedas confirmed his plans toappeal.THE trial began with two people onthe stand; the other was Cristian Solano, ataxi driver suspected of acting as anaccomplice to Monge.Judges separated his trial fromMonge’s after they discovered thatSolano’s lawyer, Rolando Oreamuno, wasbehind on his membership fees to theCosta Rican Lawyers’ Association and hadlost his accreditation.The lawyer was ejected from court duringthe second week of the trial, andSolano must now undergo a new trial,probably using the same witnesses,explained Sergio Bonilla, spokesman forthe Judicial Branch.(Tico Times reporter Katherine Stanleycontributed to this report).

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