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Quebec man arrested for filming sexual encounters with over 30 women

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A man in Quebec has been arrested after being caught filming his sexual encounters with dozens of women and later extorting them, and sex work advocates say cases like this are frequent.

Martin Pillay, 43, was arrested Tuesday morning in Montreal by officers who say their investigation into the case found that the man had filmed his sexual relations with at least 34 women without their consent, the majority of whom were sex workers.

Spokesperson Ghislain Vallières from the Longueuil police department, the local force in charge of the investigation, says they arrested the 43-year-old at his home in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough for voyeurism, soliciting and purchasing sex, extortion and possession of a prohibited weapon.

Police say investigators were able to identify and contact at least three women from the man’s footage, which was taken over several years, dating back to 2019.

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Martin Pillay, 43, was arrested Tuesday morning in Montreal by officers who say their investigation into the case found that the man had filmed at least 34 unknowing women over several years, dating back to 2019, the majority of whom were sex workers. SPAL, Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil

Authorities released a photo of the suspect earlier this week, asking anyone who believes they may have been victimized by him to come forward in the investigation.

Advocates say going to police increases risk

Sex work advocate Sandra Wesley says coming forward to police often puts the community at an even greater risk.

Wesley, who is the director of Stella, a Montreal-based organization by and for sex workers, told Global that extortion in her line of work is a regular, consistent occurrence.

She said that while it can often come in the form of a perpetrator using nonconsensual footage as a threat, it’s often done when the real identities of sex workers are exposed.

“When people find out our real identity, they can say, ‘Well, I’ll tell your family or your employer or your kids’ school’.”

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She says the extortion demands can vary. Some will threaten to out the person if they don’t provide sexual services, others force the sex worker to date them and be in a relationship, and others will demand money.

She told Global her organization, which works with trans women, non-binary people and some men who work as women, often sees extortion cases involving landlords.

She says landlords often find out their tenant is a sex worker and demand money, illegally increase the rent and demand sexual services.

“They have a key to the apartment, so they will say, ‘If you don’t give me sexual services I’m going to double your rent because I think you make a lot of money,’ and it puts us in positions where it’s really hard to negotiate or find solutions.”

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Extortion threats range from being outed, leaking videos, denouncing sex workers to police, to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency), or having them deported by outing them to immigration.

“And this comes from clients, people posing as clients, or even sometimes co-workers, bosses, and other people.”

And while police are inviting anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Pillay to call investigators at 450-463-7192, Wesley highlights that that option often only further endangers their lives and living conditions.

“One of the reasons why sometimes we don’t contact the police is because we are afraid of a scenario playing out where we are calling them for violence, and their response is to arrest people for other things that are not the problem.”

While there is immunity from criminal prosecution for a person selling their own sexual services in Canada, Wesley says the risks are regardless much higher than the benefits of going to police.

“You can lose your kids, be evicted, become ostracized by your family, lose other employment, and police can seize all of our money. It’s very, very common for sex workers to have their money seized by police.”

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