The sex worker who got into an argument with a Secret Service agent at a hotel in Colombia, precipitating an investigation involving other agents and military personnel, has made her first public comments on the scandal, talking to the New York Times.
This is something really big, the unidentified woman, a 24-year-old single mother, told the Times' William Neuman in an article published Wednesday. This is the government of the United States. I have nervous attacks. I cry all the time.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., ranking members on congressional national security committees, have been briefing the press about the investigation, which put 11 Secret Service agents on leave and involved even more military personnel.
The men are accused of picking up 20 or 21 women at a strip joint -- reportedly the Pley Club in Cartagena -- after a late night of partying and drinking and bringing them back to the posh Hotel Caribe, where they were stationed ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the Summit of the Americas over the weekend.
The Secret Service first caught wind of the alleged misconduct (prostitution is legal in most of Colombia, so it's not a criminal inquiry) when one of the prostitutes got into a heated argument with an agent about how much money she was owed.
The woman -- whom the New York Times does not identify by name -- said she's scared and had no idea who her client was. Here are five interesting details from her story:
- Despite reports that the agents bragged about their important jobs while picking up the ladies, this escort said she didn't know he was in the Secret Service. They never told me they were with Obama, she told the Times. They were very discreet.
- There was a language gap between herself and the agent. She said the agent had been drunk when she originally negotiated an $800 price and was disgusted when he countered her offer with 50,000 pesos ($30) in the morning.
- She said she started crying when the agent became angry and ordered her out of the room, cursing. She said didn't call the police at the hotel because another American begged her not to, but came across a policeman on her way home. The argument escalated when they both returned to the hotel.
- She insists she is an escort, and not a prostitute, and is upset that the media keeps calling her that. You have higher rank, she told the Times. An escort is someone who a man can take out to dinner. She can dress nicely, wear nice makeup, speak and act like a lady. That's me.
- She doesn't want the agent to get in trouble.