Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Rita Picard: Montreal's oft-jailed Queen of the Red Light


Picard as seen in 1980 doc Plusieurs tombent en amour* 
 Rita Picard persisted in pimping, getting busted an incredible 49 times between 1947 and 1992 for prostitution-related offences and ultimately spent over 15 years behind bars for being a madam.
    Picard was born in 1928 and first saw the inside of a paddy wagon at the age of 19 but eventually graduated from prostitute to madam.
   Here's a partial list of her problems with the law as gleaned from local newspapers:
   30 June 1966 Picard, 42, was sentenced to 15 months in Tanguay prison after trying to bribe cops with $450 in cash.  Cops Ostiguy, Therrien and Vaillancourt dropped into her place of prostitution at 2025 Jean Talon Apt. 3 on March 17 and told her that she had to appear in court for prostitution charges. She handed them $460 in cash and asked for $10 back, promising that they'd never see her again in Montreal if they discreetly overlooked her charges.
  Nov 7 1969 Picard fought cop confiscation of $1465 from a house of prostitution she was running on St. Famille Street. She was found guilty but apparently got to keep the money because police couldn't prove that it came off the backs of prostitutes.
April 22 1970 Picard went into business with a young runaway named Madeleine Taylor but the two squabbled about the division of cash and Picard ended up accused of extortion. She was released without charges.
10 and 11 Nov 1972 After a year without a single whorehouse bust, a new police morality squad run by Gerald Cholette and Richard Auby busted 42 women, including Picard at 1444 Mackay apt. 4. 
May 2 1973 -Judge Paul Hurteau sentenced Picard to 18 months for living on the avails of prostitution, operating four young women out of a whorehouse on downtown Metcalfe Street. She was already serving a term of 23 months at the time.
Jan 14 1981 Picard was released following an 18-month sentence in June 1980 and within one month had an operation on Concorde Blvd in Laval. Three girls made $50 per client, while Picard's apartment acted as the welcoming centre of the house of prostitution that lasted from July to October and made an estimated $3,500 in that time. Picard noted that she was alone with no husband, children or other family and had no other source of income. Picard had appeared in a documentary about prostitution one year earlier. "will you keep doing this?": asked Judge Allard? "All I want it so be left alone. Cops should look elsewhere for prostitutes as there are many others in Montreal other than mine."  By this time the Queen of the Red Light had spent at least 14 years behind bars all told. The judge sentenced her to one year in prison.
Jan 28, 1992 Picard, 64, was arrested for the 49th time after being charged with running a house of prostitution at 9294 Clark with Sarah Kitchin, 19 from Calgary. Picard was sentenced to three years in prison for the same thing in 1989 but only served one year. She defended herself in an interview. "I never did anything other than act as an intermediary between girls and clients, at least I'm not living on welfare." She faced two years in prison.
*Coolopolis believes that the woman in this photo is Picard but cannot confirm without actually seeing the film. Please help if you have seen the movie

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