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'DC Madam' Calls for Clients to Aid Her Defense

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'DC Madam' Calls for Clients to Aid Her Defense

Law

'DC Madam' Calls for Clients to Aid Her Defense

'DC Madam' Calls for Clients to Aid Her Defense

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/9923927/9923929" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Deborah Jeane Palfrey reads a statement after a hearing at the Federal Court House in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The alleged "D.C. Madam" says her business was a legal escort service in Washington, D.C. — not a high-dollar prostitution ring, as prosecutors say. Deborah Jeane Palfrey said she expects to enlist some of the capital's top power-brokers to help her case, whether they like it or not.

Palfrey, who faces charges of running an upscale call-girl ring in Washington from her California home, has given phone records to ABC News that could unveil thousands of clients.

Palfrey says she hopes that publicizing the list could lead some of those whose names are on it to testify in her defense — and to say that they did not use her service for sex.

A former top State Department official abruptly resigned after it was revealed that he was one of her clients. Randall Tobias, who ran foreign aid programs at the State Department, told ABC he only received legitimate services — like massages — from the escorts he hired. Palfrey wants Tobias and others to say that on the witness stand.

Palfrey has apologized to Tobias — but she has also said that revealing her client list is part of her defense strategy.

"Friday's admission by Mr. Tobias that he engaged in legal activity while a customer of my firm supports my position all along," Palfrey said after a hearing Monday, "that I operated a sexual, albeit legal, business for 13 years, from 1993 to 2006."

According to the ABC News Web site, the list of customers who could become witnesses includes "a Bush administration economist, the head of a conservative think tank, a prominent CEO, several lobbyists and a handful of military officials."

Earlier this month, Palfrey identified another customer as Harlan Ullman, who helped develop military strategies for the Iraq war during President Bush's first term. Ullman has said the allegation is "beneath the dignity of comment."

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