April 11, 2007 4:58 AM PDT

Police blotter: Sensual masseuse sues ex-customer

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Police blotter is a weekly CNET News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Sensual masseuse who was allegedly paid for sex relies on instant-messaging transcripts when suing ex-customer for $1.5 million.

When: California Court of Appeal, Second District, rules on April 9.

Outcome: Masseuse is awarded $610 in damages.

What happened, according to court documents:
In late 2004, Nieme Goines was in the business of providing "sensual massage" services to male clients she found on the Internet. One of her clients was allegedly Peter Wilkes, an executive at a film production company in the Los Angeles area. (Other than that side business, Goines was unemployed and admits that she was in "desperate" financial circumstances.)

Goines claims that her new client promised to help her with her career, "take care of her financially," buy her a car, pay for her dental work and move her into a house in Pacific Palisades. Most of those alleged promises were not met, though Goines does acknowledge that she received gifts totaling more than $13,000 from Wilkes.

She sued. Her lawsuit, filed in August 2005, demanded a whopping $500,000 for emotional distress, $500,000 for promissory estoppel (which generally prohibits false promises) and $500,000 for punitive damages. It rests largely on an a string of alleged instant-message and e-mail conversations.

In one e-mail, Wilkes promised "2000 dollars to start a checking account this week and 500-1000 dollars to start a savings account this week" and in another a few months later, he suggested giving Goines "$2,000-$3,000 a week to help with bills, other expense, car rentals, (and) getting nice stuff like clothes." Others pledged to take care of Goines' rent and to pay the past-due bill for her dental work in January.

Sex apparently was a key component of this relationship. One exchange talked about Goines coming over to Wilkes' house in exchange for money. Another had Wilkes arguing that the $13,000 he had already handed over should have "gotten (him) 90 massage sessions." Goines once told Wilkes to find someone else to "pamper" his sexual organs.

After the sensual masseuse's male friend and roommate, Sam Killebrew, called Wilkes, he replied in an e-mail message that Killebrew had engaged in "threats." Wilkes also warned Goines that she could face charges of extortion and blackmail.

One problem in evaluating the truth of the lawsuit's allegations is that Wilkes never responded to it. Judge Victor H. Person of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County entered a default judgment against Wilkes for $610, which was the total of the dentist's bill he wrote a bounced check to cover, and Goines appealed.

California's Court of Appeal, Second District, upheld the verdict. It noted that courts will not enforce contracts based on the "moral and illicit consideration of meretricious sexual services."

Excerpts from the appeals court's opinion:
The e-mails and instant messages contain numerous examples of instances where sexual matters and money were connected. In one, respondent stated that appellant's demands "sound too much like pay for play" and asked whether giving her a car, money and a Valentine's Day gift would put her "in the mood." He said that the $13,000 he had given her should have "gotten (him) 90 massage sessions."

In one of the instant-message exchanges, respondent asked appellant if she would consider coming to his house if he gave her money. In another, he asked if he could go to her apartment that night; she replied, "i'm so broke, i can't find the 100 you gave me ... down to five dollars ... can you help me out?"

Later in that same exchange, he said: "let me know if u want to meet at 9 or not, whether i bring money or not." Appellant responded that respondent was treating her like a "prostitute" but said nothing that could be interpreted as encouragement to visit without bringing money.

In another instant-message exchange, respondent said he was coming over that night, and appellant suggested that he "(b)ring something to make my life easy...." Later, respondent complained there had been "no sex since 2 days after i gave u the money," and she reminded him, "You said you'd give me money everytime you come here."

The court, after reviewing the declarations and documentary evidence, requested a prove-up hearing. Appellant was the only witness.

Her testimony at the hearing was in accordance with the complaint and her declaration: respondent promised to open bank accounts for her, provide specific sums of money per week, move her into his home, buy her a car, expensive clothes and jewelry, and assist her in getting out of debt and into a job. He specifically promised to take care of the January dental bill.

At one point, he wrote a check to the oral surgeon, which failed to clear his account. Appellant testified that respondent referred to her as his fiancee and denied that he paid her for sex.

In response to questioning by the court, appellant admitted that she had been a sensual masseuse for three or four months, had only four clients and earned at most $800 to $900 per month. She conceded that she could return to that occupation by placing an Internet advertisement.

In addition, since the break up, she had taken computer tutorials and was working in Web design and photo retouch and restoration. The roommate she had acquired during her relationship with respondent was paying all or most of the rent on her apartment.

In its order, the court found true many of the facts attested to by appellant, including that respondent made promises of financial support and career assistance. It also found that appellant stopped performing massage services, gathered her clothing to move into his home and arranged for a friend to move into her apartment.

Appellant's contention that the court exhibited "unfair bias" by making findings that highlighted the sexual nature of the parties' relationship represents a misapprehension about the court's role in resolving a claim by a party against a former romantic partner.

Where a plaintiff claims to have entered into a contract with a former romantic partner, under which the partner promised to provide monetary support or other financial benefits, the trial court is required to examine the nature of the parties' relationship to determine whether "sexual services form an inseparable part of the consideration for the agreement."

This is because a contract between nonmarried parties is unenforceable to the extent that it is based on "the immoral and illicit consideration of meretricious sexual services."

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9 comments

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New.com the new on=line Enquirer
I come here for relevant technology news such as what feature of Microsoft leaves the world exposed but certainly not this crap about a maseuse. The tabloidization of news continues...pathetic.
Posted by Schratboy (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You missed the point, and it does have to do with technology
Duh! Some people can't see the forest for the trees. :-) Besides, you didn't have to read the story. CNET doesn't expect you to read everything it publishes. Get a life!
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Link Flag
Don't get too full of your self
This is one dull and convoluted business to limit it to just MS versions and all its miriad bugs. Try not to be the keeper of business journalism. You're not very good at it.
I love the wierd and bizare. We need to laugh at other's foibles and what your "johnson" can get you into....
Posted by dwerth (3 comments )
Link Flag
Interesting
I think this is a very relevent story related to technology. People
are still not used to the fact their conversations are now able to be
stored and used against them in court, even IM. I always save
certain IM sections. RoboCop anyone?
Posted by cashaww (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Always interesting
Whenever I see an article at News.com written by Declan McCullagh it has my attention. Usually his articles have to do with the potential collision of technology and Constitutional law or esoteric details of politics with regards to technology. He never disappoints.

This shows once again that we are who we are. Regardless of how self-righteous we become, when you dress up a squalid society in technology, what you have is a squalid society in hooker-red lipstick.
Posted by kenneth.cottrell (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pathetic
This pathetic prostitute is an example of abuse of our legal system. They should have thrown her out on her backside immediately. Stuff like this makes me really mad....these sorts of people are what makes our world a ridiculous place for decent people to live.
Posted by dbstevens (394 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Technology and the law sometimes meld in the unlikeliest of ways
She's pathetic for telling the truth?

And it is relevant here because there are probably more than a few patronizers of working girls visiting tech sites! Prostitutes are more popular than Jesus and The Beatles put together. Better if everyone stays informed. Or maybe just avoid promising the moon, and reserve lies of such magnitudes until it's time to short-sell stocks or hit up the poker tables in Vegas.
Posted by 1984dotUSA (1 comment )
Link Flag
A prostitute is an honest working girl that delivers what she is paid for.
This girl is a fraud, promising but not delivering.

Its sort of like buying champagne for a dancer at a topless bar.

Related story: a friend of a friend pays a lady $10,000 per weekend visit to vegas. She treats him like a boyfriend... meets him at airport, dinner, clubs, etc.

He says he could visit Vegas every weekend for the rest of his life and it would still be cheaper than his last divorce.
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now I ain't sayin she's a golddigger...
This woman makes me laugh because I've been close to this type of situation before. Not with a masseuse or anything, but with girls I've met, usually through blind dates, who see I'm living upper middle class and try to get a handout in exchange for 'favors'. I even had one ask me to pay her way through school in exchange for 'dedicated access'.

A lot of women claim they're objectified by men. It's true, because women like this make men think the wrong things about women. She should have had a lot more pride in herself, and her actions show a latent issue in her past, probably molested as a youth or abandoned by a guy. She's living with a guy (who she was probably screwing) and giving 'sensual' massages to other men for money. Sounds like a high priced hooker to me.
Posted by ReVeLaTeD (755 comments )
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