Paul Cherry • Montreal Gazette Publishing date: Mar 09, 2021
“He said he would never let me go like my parents had.”
A woman who was about to testify against the man she alleges turned her into a prostitute could be heard hyperventilating in the corridor of the Montreal courthouse as she was about to appear before a judge on Monday.
“She’s having a panic attack,” prosecutor Amélie Rivard told Quebec Court Judge Erick Vanchestein before the young woman was finally convinced to enter the courtroom where Cleephord Linecker Losse, 30, of Repentigny began his trial in which he is accused of having two people, including a 15-year-old girl, work as prostitutes for him.
The judge removed himself from the courtroom to give the woman, whose name cannot be published, a chance to compose herself. She shook to a point where she appeared to be suffering from a fever as a social worker guided her to the witness stand. She also continued to hyperventilate as she sat down.
“This hurts too much. I can’t do this,” the woman said just before Vanchestein returned to the courtroom.
He appeared to have a calming influence on the witness.
“Maybe you’re surprised because you weren’t scheduled to testify today,” the judge said. “Just look toward me when you do (testify).”
With those word the woman squeezed on a stress ball as she began testifying about the abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of Losse in 2016 when she was in her early 20s and homeless.
She recalled how she met Losse while staying at a resource for homeless young people in eastern Montreal.
“I had a good job. I was happy. I was singing in a choir,” the woman testified. She said Losse suddenly showed up at the resource and ignored her while joking around with the few friends she had.
When she asked her friends who Losse was, they said he was a nice guy with a good sense of humour. Then, one day, Losse suddenly showered attention on her.
“He said he wanted to get me on La Voix,” she said, referring to the Quebec singing competition show. “Suddenly, I had a lot of confidence. My life was beautiful.”
Almost just as quickly, the same people the woman considered to be her friends turned on her in an apparent plan to make her dependent on Losse.
One night in 2016, he invited her to a movie but he instead drove her from Verdun to the Motel Bourassa in Montreal North where they watched a movie in a cheap motel room on his laptop.
While they laid on a bed watching the movie, the women said, Losse began to touch her in a sexual manner.
“I let him touch me. It was maybe a survival technique. I figured it would turn out better out if I let it happen,” she said. “He said he would never let me go like my parents had.”
At the same time, a woman she had been sharing an apartment with suddenly texted her saying she would have to leave. She said that while she was getting over the shock of the text messages, Losse asked her if she ever considered “dancing nude.”
She said he also proposed that she work as an escort while he managed her clients and that they would split the money she made in half.
“I found it disgusting. I asked him why I would sell my body while someone else gets 50 per cent,” the woman told the judge.
Despite her initial apprehension, the woman said she suddenly found herself receiving clients in the same motel room where she stayed for a few days. She said Losse took nude photos of her and posted them on a website offering her services before the clients began showing up.
The woman is scheduled to resume her testimony on Tuesday.
The other complainant in the case — who was 15 years old when Losse allegedly had her work for him — also testified Monday that she was brought to Motel Bourassa, in 2015, where he had unprotected sex with her twice and began working as a prostitute for him soon after. She said she had protected sex with five men while working for Losse for a month.
The alleged victim, who is now a young woman, alleged that Losse impregnated her and convinced her to have an abortion.
The trial is expected to continue for three weeks.