Woman Accused of Running Brothel in Camarillo Faces Pandering Trial : Courts: During preliminary hearing, two former employees give conflicting testimony about what type transactions went on at massage parlor.
Two former employees gave conflicting testimony Monday during the preliminary hearing of a woman accused of operating a brothel out of a Camarillo massage parlor.
“It was terrible,” said Denise Oien, who contended she was held a virtual prisoner in the shop, Le Papillon. “I had no place to go. I had no money and I was homeless. She knew that.”
Oien’s emotional testimony concluded the first day of Claudine Tissier Eubank’s preliminary hearing in Ventura County Municipal Court. Because of scheduling conflicts, the conclusion of the hearing was delayed until Dec. 8.
Mandy Magnuson, the other former employee to testify, recanted statements she had given police about performing sex for money in Eubank’s shop.
Eubank, 53, faces three felony charges of pandering. She is accused of hiring women and coercing them into performing sex acts for money in a Camarillo strip mall at 300 N. Lantana St.
The San Diego County woman has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“They think I’m Heidi Fleiss,” Eubank said outside court. “I wish I was. In my 20 years of doing business, I’ve never pimped anyone.”
That denial conflicted with Oien’s testimony late Monday. Oien said she lost her job after a Victorville massage parlor closed, and that she was referred to Eubank in May for what she thought was honest work.
But during her first week of employment, it became apparent that Eubank expected her to provide customers with more than massages, Oien testified. And less than a month after taking the job, she was arrested on suspicion of prostitution.
Oien has not been charged and has been granted immunity from prosecution for her testimony against Eubank.
She said at least three men she was massaging in that first week would remove their towels and demand sexual favors.
“There were customers who did not want to leave their towels on who wanted to touch me,” she testified. During the first two weeks, she said she resisted the men’s advances, which infuriated Eubank.
“She would scream, ‘Why don’t you take care of the men?’ ” Oien said between sobs. “She was very irate, very mad.”
Oien testified that she was forced to spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on the floor of an empty, windowless room waiting for customers.
She is scheduled to resume her testimony Dec. 8.
Most of Monday’s hearing featured the testimony of Magnuson, who recanted her tales of prostitution.
Magnuson had told investigators in a taped interview that she performed sex acts for money at Le Papillon during her three months of employment ending in April.
But on the stand Monday, Magnuson said she fabricated her story to stay out of jail by getting Eubank in trouble.
“I was angry with Claudine,” Magnuson said. “And I just wanted [the investigator] to leave me alone, so I told him what he wanted to hear.”
Magnuson had given police a detailed price list for sexual favors. Deputy Dist. Atty. Lisa Frawley on Monday asked Magnuson where she came across such a detailed list, which included acts ranging in price from $5 to $80.
“I was making up prices,” she said. “I watch ‘Cops’ every night and that’s where I got the prices.”
Police raided the massage parlor June 19 after watching the storefront for several weeks. Investigators said they received anonymous tips complaining of a high volume of male traffic in and out of the store in an upscale shopping center.
A deputy sheriff is expected to testify when the hearing resumes that she was offered a prostitution job at Le Papillon while working undercover.
Eubank is free on $20,000 bail.
Photographer Alan Hagman contributed to this report.
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