Crown scoffs at former escort's claim she was victim

Ottawa court hears final arguments in fraud trial

By TONY SPEARS, Ottawa Sun

January 26, 2011

Darquise Lecuyer is deceitful, callous and remorseless and should be convicted of an $800,000 fraud she orchestrated then ineptly tried to cover up, Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer charged in his closing address Tuesday.

Not so, countered defence lawyer Bruce Engel. She’s merely an unsophisticated woman with a limited education whose superior talents as an escort led alleged victim Douglas Macklem to truly believe in the “girlfriend experience” she sold him.

The slender, blond Lecuyer faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, extortion, money laundering and possessing the proceeds of crime. She allegedly pocketed money he gave her in the belief they were building a small resort and a life together in the Dominican Republic.

The jury begins deliberations Wednesday.

For Engel, Lecuyer’s a sympathetic figure, browbeaten by violent husband Nolan Johnson. Some of her initial deceit was perfectly natural — of course she didn’t tell Macklem she was married.

“It probably wouldn’t be real good for business,” Engel said.

When she hinted at leaving the business in 2006, two years after Macklem first hired her, Macklem took it as a sign of a burgeoning relationship.

Engel said she was merely trying to get out of the seamy world of hired sex. She used money he gave her because there was never any agreement that Macklem should stop paying for her time.

“Most people don’t want to have sex for money,” he said.

Then Johnson became Lecuyer’s puppeteer, forcing her to keep extracting money from the hapless Macklem, Engel said.

Though Johnson himself collected a $25,000 bank draft meant for Lecuyer and Macklem’s island paradise, Lecuyer had to ask Macklem for $800 a few days later. It shows Johnson was controlling the purse strings, Engel said.

Neubauer scoffed at the idea of duress, telling the jury Lecuyer could easily have thwarted Johnson by telling Macklem to cut off the cashflow.

And she threatened to abort what was revealed to be a fictitious fetus if Macklem didn’t pony up $114,000 for real estate and cars she supposedly bought while he was suffering in hospital.

“She said those things for the sole purpose of extracting money from him that he wouldn’t otherwise have given her,” he said.

On the stand, Lecuyer couldn’t remember if she had e-mailed the threat or phoned him from one day to the next.

“She couldn’t keep her lies straight so she hedged her bets,” Neubauer said.

“Her word is simply worthless.”

During the trial Tuesday, the face that launched a thousand bank drafts just looked bored.