Brothel pair fight underage sex claim
Two brothel receptionists say they made no attempt to check the ID of an underage girl they allegedly allowed to work in the sex trade - and who later died in the parlour.
The girl, whose name has been suppressed, was found dead in a bedroom of the Exotic Studio brothel in Fyshwick on September 15, 2008.
The teenager, who the ACT Magistrates Court heard used the working name ''Amanda'' the night before her death, was aged 17 at the time.
Now the then-brothel receptionists, Diana Agnes Molnar and Eva Maria Sara, are fighting allegations they permitted a child to provide commercial sexual services.
The case hinges on whether the sisters took reasonable steps to ascertain whether Amanda was 18 and believed ''on reasonable grounds'' she was 18. Both defendants yesterday testified there were convinced the girl was older - 19, 20 or even 21.
All three parties - the sisters and Amanda - signed a ''deed of licence'', a document required by the brothel owners before the girl could start work.
The court heard, however, neither asked her to provide any identification to verify her age and the Crown has argued it would have been ''only too easy'' to double-check.
At the time of Amanda's death Molnar, 58, and Sara, 65, were working as receptionists, with the older sister working days and Molnar working nights.
The court heard Sara, unlike her sister, was not in the employ of the brothel owners Dalmation Pty Ltd or company director Melissa Barac and was just ''helping out''.
Prosecutor Sarah McMurray told the court the teenager left her home on the evening of September 14, telling her mother she was going to dinner.
But Amanda had in fact made arrangements with Sara to work as a prostitute from the licensed Townsville Street premises. She worked a shift that evening, providing sexual services for money, and the court heard slept during the next day in a bedroom at Exotic Studio.
Police were called to the scene the next evening after the girl's body was discovered.
Barrister Jack Pappas, representing both defendants, argued Amanda's death was irrelevent to the charges before the court. ''It is a sad and very regrettable circumstance that the young lady died on September 15 but it has no immediate bearing on the proof of these charges,'' he said.
Detective Senior Constable Kyle Mifsud told the court call charge records showed an outgoing call from Exotic Studio to Amanda's mobile on the afternoon of the 14th.
But Sara, entering the witness box in her own defence, told the court Amanda had called looking for work and posing as a 19-year-old.
''When somebody rings up asking for a job, and I ask them questions regarding, have they worked before, how old are they, I take at face value that what they say is what it is in reality,'' the accused said.
Constable Mifsud, under cross-examination from Mr Pappas, conceded no check was done to see whether a call was placed to the brothel from Amanda's home phone.
And during the hearing the barrister questioned whether a phone call could constitute ''permission'' and satisfy the necessary elements of the charge.
Escort agency driver Alan Pang, then a 10-year veteran of the industry who drove for both the brothel and the Touch of Class escort agency, picked the girl up from her home.
Mr Pang told the court someone, who he thought was Sara, had asked him to pick up ''the new girl'' and take her to Exotic Studio.
The driver said Amanda - ''a tall, big girl … 5 foot 10 or 5 foot 11,'' - said she was from Kalgoorlie, had two children and had recently come out of a relationship.
Molnar, who had started working the night shift by the time Amanda arrived at the parlour, sat down with the new girl and ''assessed'' her.
''First of all a general assessment of the way she looked, and then when we spoke the way she spoke, her level of maturity, her natural demeanour,'' the defendant said.
''She just did not act or look under 18. I had no doubt.''
Molnar said she had asked prospective workers for identification in the past but not Amanda, and it was her call to allow the teen to work there.
''Because I had no doubt that she was, in my mind, it was unquestionable, that she was over 18, she was too mature,'' the defendant said.
The matter is due back in court before Magistrate Peter Morrison at a date to be fixed for final submissions.