• Germany's news in English

'Flat rate sex' brothel owners jailed for fraud

DDP/DPA/The Local · 24 Jul 2010, 10:52

Published: 24 Jul 2010 10:52 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The ‘Pussy Club’ chain of brothels, based in Stuttgart, Wuppertal, Heidelberg and Schönefeld just outside Berlin, attracted intense attention when the owners started offering the ‘flat rate’ deal.

Customers were offered ‘sex with all the women, as long as you want, as often as you want and how you want’ for a one-off payment of €70 or €100 a day.

Much of the country’s media were simply titillated by the idea, but the business model also sparked a debate about human dignity.

It also attracted official attention, and then an investigation into the circumstances under which the women, most of whom did not have work permits, had come to work there.

Six people involved in running the clubs were arrested and charged with human trafficking.

The verdict handed down on Friday by the Stuttgart District Court surprised many observers – the 27-year-old woman who was the titular head of the brothels was given three years in prison.

A 26-year-old manager was given three years, and a 30-year-old man, two years and ten months. Two more women aged 27 and 22 were given suspended sentences while a 30-year-old man was fined.

They admitted to fraud concerning €2.7 million social security payments that had not been made – the prostitutes had been fraudulently registered as self-employed. Because they were obviously not self-employed, their employers should have been paying social security for them.

The original charges of human trafficking were dropped against the 26-year-old who was described as a front woman, only owning the brothels on paper. The other two main defendants remain charged with human trafficking in other cases.

Story continues below…

Judge Andreas Arndt said in his sentencing speech that the prostitutes were not being threatened with violence, nor forced to work there, as had been alleged. He also said it was not for the court to decide whether the flat rate sex offer was an offence against human dignity.

Raids on the brothels at the end of last July resulted in those in Heidelberg and Stuttgart being closed because of poor hygiene standards, while the one in Wuppertal has also been closed down.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart are investigating 32 men accused of human trafficking, who have been arrested in Germany, Spain and Romania and are thought to be the driving force behind the chain of brothels.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:51 July 24, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
chicagolive, it's the same as any where else. It may just seem more obvious in Germany. If your from Chicago, I think you know that better than most.
17:43 July 24, 2010 by wood artist
My my. While this is supposed to be an English language forum, the display of typos and grammar skills is most interesting. In any case, to the point....

The court rightly found them guilty of breaking the law, and sentenced them accordingly. Since the court observed that they cannot find someone guilty of something that isn't a crime according to the law (the flat rate system) it quite properly dealt with the matter. Assuming the other findings are correct...and I wasn't in court to hear the testimony and evidence...the women weren't threatened with violence or forced to work there.

While it is fair to take positions for or against the whole idea, it is unfair to expect the courts to simply "make up" new laws so you can deliver punishment based upon your own moral views. We would all be rightly upset if they did.

In short, the court did exactly what we need them to do...adjudicate based upon the law! If there are new laws needed, the legislative branches of the government need to take up that challenge. The court found them guilty of breaking the existing laws. That those laws happen to deal with social security payments is incidental.

19:29 July 24, 2010 by MonkeyMania
I wonder how many judges and police were using their services. Did the police mount an undercover operation to infiltrate the brothel as a customer. I bet they were tripping over themselves for that project.
21:16 July 24, 2010 by JAMessersmith
Don't mind Chicagolive, we're just hypocrites here in Amerika. We pretend to be the puritanical standard-bearers of morality, but fuel most of the debauchery throughout the world. Our massive porn industry here in LA is a good example of that. "Promiscuous sex is bad! Now, checkout out our plethora of porn!" Also consider that we'd much rather our children watch extreme violence on TV, but if they see any part of the female anatomy, we lodge complaints and file lawsuits... even though our biggest export is porn.

You can also open up any issue of the LA Weekly and find countless hookers advertising their wares in the back... we just have to call them "escorts" instead of "prostitutes", but it's one of those *wink-wink, nudge-nudge* kind of things. And if that's a little too sketchy for you, just make the drive over to Vegas and you're in the clear. Who even knows how many of them are forced workers from Mexico, South America, or Asia? We certainly don't, because it's all under the table.

Of course, who could forget the marijuana? There are various pot shops around the city, but we have to pretend they are for "medical use", even though the vast majority of people seen going in and out appear to be healthy young adults who obviously paid shady doctors a couple hundred bucks for a license. Yet, given how relatively weak pot is, and how strong something like whiskey is, it is somewhat perplexing why we must hide one and promote the other on billboards. And that's not even to mention the thriving pharmaceutical industry that supplies our nation with synthetic heroin, valium, and any number of chemical concoctions that are powerful enough to knock out a horse...

So in essence, we have the same sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll here in Amerika, but we have to call them 'escorts and medication", instead of sex and drugs. The difference is, Germany just calls it what it is.
10:56 July 25, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
chicagolive, I meant no offense. But who has admitted their corruption? Blagojevich? IMHO, there is no need to admit the obvious. It is a travesty of justice no matter where it is done. More important, what can we, as law abiding citizens do?
15:36 July 25, 2010 by Deutschguy
There should be laws to protect sex workers from abusive practices and standards, if a country is going to allow prostitution. A flat rate offer seems abusive, as there should be a limit as to how many clients a worker has to service in an eight hour work period. This might be a situation where being paid for "piece work" is better, pun intended.

The judge went as far as could in punishing the defendants according to existing law. I thought there was a sex workers union in Germany that lobbied for worker protections, but I'm not sure about that. Does anyone know about the agency charged with inspecting brothels and the safety/ working conditions of workers? I really would like to know that.

Sounds like chicagolive is taking hearsay and anecdotes from co-workers as truth. Cite a study of sentences handed down for various violations vs. non-payment of fees or taxes before you make such an unsubstantiated claim. Maybe chicagolive just resents paying taxes to any government, period, and needs a better accountant.
13:22 July 26, 2010 by lovelybug
It is really interesting to see different ideas of human dignity here. I am not able to understand the issue with the "Flat rate" sex here. Is it that a customer should not be allowed to have sex with as many women as he wants or is it that the offer is not expensive. I think prostitutes works in brother to offer their body for money. So what is the problem here?.

Lets assume there is no flat rate model and a person want to have sex with all the prostitutes in the brothel. He can have it if he pays more. And lets assume that there are 5 prostitutes in the brother and he has to pay 50 Euro for each. So in 250 he can have sex with all. Right? Is it correct according to human dignity? If this is right then , may be , the issue is that it is only about money and not about human dignity. :)
23:48 July 26, 2010 by chicagolive
@lovelybug I think you explained it best, human dignity was not the real reason here it boiled down to the money.

@ Deutschguy let me break it down for you I don't deal with hearsay and she said he said, can I give you line for line what is going on no because besides compromising my position I would compromise others. I will say as fact here in Heidelberg where one of the P Clubs was at it was wholly about the money "human dignity" was a after thought. My friend got this direct line from a superior that they want to find out if they had paid any money into the government coffers and if they paid enough when my friend enquired if the conditions would be address the answer was "These are whores who cares about their condition".

Now I can't answer for other cities but I know here for 100% it was about the money. The P club had a open house once and gave out free entrance without use of services it was basically seeing the facilities. For €100 after 8pm till 1pm and €75 between 10am & 4pm it was all you can eat they had a buffett, drinks(yes alcohol to), and have sex with, and it was frequented by locals including politicians.
10:26 July 29, 2010 by Deutschguy
@chicagolive: Maybe you do not understand what hearsay is. This is hearsay: "My friend got this direct line from a superior that they want to find out if they had paid any money into the government coffers and if they paid enough when my friend enquired if the conditions would be address the answer was "These are whores who cares about their condition".

A superior making an off the cuff remark, allegedly told to your 'friend', is not evidence of government policy. Also, it isn't clear that the agency your friend works for is responsible for collecting fees and taxes, or also has as its responsibility making sure that working conditions are legal and meet requirements.

Now, if the agency is responsible for working conditions as well as tax/fee collection, and there is evidence that the superior actually did make that remark, he should be fired. Also, your last example re: free entrance, buffet, etc., is still not evidence that 'it is all about the money', even if politicians went there, as it appears it was open to the public.
Today's headlines
Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd