In e-mail, prostitute told friend she met with PSC member

April 08, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

A convicted prostitute told a friend in an e-mail exchange that she spent over an hour with Charles R. Boutin, a public service commissioner and former Republican delegate, in a Towson hotel room last October - a claim that appears to contradict Boutin's written assertion Thursday night that he "could not allow himself" to meet her.

The e-mails, which refer to Boutin as a "client" and indicate that they disagreed over money, were released yesterday afternoon by the Harford County sheriff's office, which seized the woman's home computer while building a criminal case against her.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who appointed Boutin to his $99,568-a-year post, said he would accept Boutin's resignation if offered - a move Boutin's lawyer said was not forthcoming.

The governor declared during an appearance on WBAL radio that Boutin's dealings with the prostitute came before his appointment to the commission.

"This is new to me. This occurred when he was a delegate," Ehrlich said.

However, the woman, in two e-mails sent to a friend Oct. 10 and 11, discusses an appointment in Towson with "that politician Boutin" months after he joined the commission on July 1, 2005.

"My day was good I had an hour and 1/2 jacuzzi session and then I saw Boutin for 1 1/2 hours. He unfortunately has E.D.," she wrote, referring to impotence. "The first client paid extra for the jacuzzi, Boutin told me this morning that he didn't want the jacuzzi (probably due to the cost even though he can afford it) but then when he got there and saw it he said, `Well, since you already have it we might as well use it.'"

Her appointment calendar for Oct. 11, also seized by the sheriff's department, shows a notation of "Boutin - 2 p.m."

Boutin, 64, was never charged with a crime, but the woman, Valerie Fletcher, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of prostitution last month and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.

In his statement Thursday, Boutin, who is married with three children, acknowledged that he discussed fantasies with Fletcher, who ran an Internet escort service, to help overcome his impotence, a condition he developed after recovering from bladder cancer.

He said he never had physical contact with the woman and "committed no criminal act."

Reached last night, Fletcher agreed that she never had sex or any other physical contact with Boutin and that her escort service was designed to satisfy role-playing fetishes for money. She said that Boutin paid for a session in which she pretended to be a stripper and that her standard rate was $250 an hour. She said she pleaded guilty to protect her clients.

"I am deeply mortified for the man that he was portrayed this way," Fletcher said. "He sought me out because I offer role play and domination."

Boutin's lawyer, Augustus F. Brown, said his client continued to insist that the two had never met. He said Boutin got "cold feet" in the hotel's parking lot and left after speaking with her on the phone. They never had "visual contact," Brown said.

Boutin sent eight other e-mails to Fletcher from his legislative account between early February and October; in them, he appeared to be arranging to meet her at hotels in Aberdeen and White Marsh. He preferred places where he wouldn't be recognized because he was "well known in Harford County."

He also sought to take her on business trips - an offer she declined, according to the e-mails.

"By the way, is travel ever possible for you? I do a lot of business trips, Austin, Santa Fe, Palm Springs, etc." he wrote in a May 23 e-mail. "Interested? Talk soon, Have a nice weekend. Chuck."

Ehrlich said yesterday on WBAL that Boutin's admission was "unfortunate. It's private. It's personal. It's a lot of things that probably don't belong on the air.

"If he offered a resignation, of course I would accept it. This is still new and has nothing to do with the real issue here," which is rising utility rates, he said.

An Ehrlich spokesman said last night that the governor would have no comment on the e-mails.

Del. Joanne S. Parrott, a Harford County Republican, said Boutin should resign from the PSC for embarrassing the government and the legislature. Boutin served seven years in the House of Delegates, where he represented Harford and Cecil Counties.

"Instead of seeking a psychologist or a psychiatrist, he chose to select pornography on the Internet to help with his supposed problem," she said. "It is disgusting. It appears all the years he has been an elected officer or on an appointed body, he has been leading a double life," she said."

Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said neither Boutin nor any of Fletcher's alleged clients were charged because of a lack of evidence and the need for witnesses to testify against her.

"You can deduce what was going on, but there's a difference between knowing and proving it," said Cassilly.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Kelly Brewington and Jennifer Skalka contributed to this article.

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