News/US: Defendant Protected Dancers, Lawyer Says

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Subject: News/US: Defendant Protected Dancers, Lawyer Says
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Dec 10 1999 - 11:52:05 EST


Defendant Protected Dancers, Lawyer Says
By Matt O'Connor
Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1999

A Russian immigrant on trial on charges that he helped force several young
Latvian women to work as exotic dancers in Chicago actually tried to
protect the women from a co-defendant who is now cooperating with
authorities, a lawyer for the man on trial told jurors Tuesday.

In an opening statement, attorney Edward Genson said defendant Vadim Gorr,
29, of Lake Zurich was thrust in the middle of the controversy when a
friend and fellow cabdriver was deported and asked him to take care of the
women.

While prosecutors admitted Gorr provided "a kinder, gentler form of
control," they contended that he is still guilty of aiding and abetting an
arrangement that amounted to involuntary servitude.

Genson wasted no time attacking Gorr's chief accuser, co-defendant Alex
Mishulovich, also a Russian native. In pleading guilty Friday, Mishulovich
admitted he recruited the women with false promises of riches, restricted
their freedom, took most of their earnings, and used violence and threats
to keep them in line.

Mishulovich, who began testifying Tuesday, said that when he recruited the
women on the streets of Riga, Latvia's major city, he led them to think he
owned "a high-end nightclub" in Chicago, that they wouldn't have to dance
nude, and that they would earn as much as $600 a week.

According to prosecutors Marsha McClellan and Terry Kinney, Mishulovich had
a falling out with his first partner, Serguie Tcharouchine, who then kept
most of the women under his control.

When Tcharouchine was deported in 1997, Gorr emerged as their handler,
prosecutors alleged. But in order for the women to find new jobs at strip
clubs, Gorr agreed to split the women's earnings with Mishulovich to obtain
false identification papers in their names that were still in Mishulovich's
control, they said.

Genson described Gorr as a hard-working immigrant who left Russia in part
because of strong religious convictions and came here to pursue the
American dream. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen as soon as he could,
legally shortened his surname from Gorokhovski and worked two or three jobs
at a time, he said.

When fellow cabdriver Tcharouchine was about to be deported and asked him
to care for the women, Gorr became enamored with one or more of the women
and "made mistakes, did stupid things," Genson said.

But Gorr didn't lay a hand on the women, threaten them or force them to do
anything against their will, Genson said.

Still, prosecutor McClellan maintained the case "is about the ability to
make choices without fear."

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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