PHILIPSBURG – The Court in First Instance sentenced Joan Peterson on Wednesday morning to 24 months of imprisonment, with 12 months suspended and 2 years of probation. Peterson’s pretrial detention remains suspended until the verdict has become irrevocable.
The court found the 42-year old Peterson guilty of crimes committed while she was working for the Casa Blanca brothel and while she was the manager of the now defunct Hypnotic brothel.
The court ruled that Peterson is an accomplice to the exploitation of women who worked as prostitutes at Casa Blanca and of illegally employing prostitutes at Hypnotic.
The charges related to Casa Blanca cover the period from January 1, 2010 to June 26, 2015 – the day Peterson left her employment at this brothel.
From January 1, 2016 to October 24 2016, Peterson employed prostitutes at the Hypnotic brothel in Sucker Garden while these women did not have work permits.
As far as the exploitation is concerned, the court ruling also addresses the role of the government. In the past, the government insufficiently took its responsibility for monitoring the vulnerable prostitution sector, the court ruling states. Casa Blanca should have realized that it had to deal more carefully with the women, but the government could have called Casa Blanca sooner to order, by – after controls – pointing out the difficult position of the women.
McQuincy Reiph was the director and manager of Casa Blanca, supported by his sister Jessica, while David Eustace also had a role in management. Peterson described her role to the court as that of a subordinate who had no authority to take decisions and she also claimed that she had not been aware of any kind of abuse.
The court did not follow this reasoning, saying that the defendant’s role was larger than she wanted the court to believe.
Nevertheless the court states in the ruling that Peterson’s “relatively small role” in the situation at Casa Blanca could have been settled with a completely conditional prison sentence. “Considering her behavior related to Hypnotic, which shows contempt for the law, only a punishment that takes away the defendant’s freedom is sufficient.”
Peterson recruited prostitutes for Casa Blanca, transported them to the club, and put them to work there, the court ruled. The women had to pay $50 per day, or $500 per week for their room and they started working with a debt varying from $1,500 to $3,500 to cover the costs of airline tickets and work permits. There was also a system of fines in place, ID-cards were taken away, the women had to work six to seven days a week and were limited in their freedom to leave the club.
Source: StMaartenNews http://stmaartennews.com/judicial/hypnotic-manager-sentenced-court/