She was 21 years old, a heroin addict for five years, the daughter of parents who were lifelong heroin addicts, and she was just getting out of rehab in 2013 when she met and fell in love with a man who turned her into a prostitute, she said.
“I was in love with him,” the woman, now 24, testified Wednesday in County Court in Riverhead as the first witness at the trial of Andrew Gayot, 37, of Lindenhurst.
At Gayot’s urging, she later recruited another woman as a prostitute and thought it would please him, she said. “I thought he was going to love me more because — I don’t know,” she said, her voice trailing off.
Gayot is on trial before Judge Barbara Kahn on charges of promoting prostitution, third-degree rape, unlawful imprisonment, drug and weapons charges and other crimes.
As the trial opened, defense attorney Daniel Russo of Hauppauge said he had opposed a nonjury trial. “I thought it not logical, sound decision-making,” Russo told the judge, who upheld Gayot’s right to chose a nonjury trial.
Assistant District Attorney Stacy Skorupa told the judge in her opening statement that Gayot lured three drug-addicted women into prostitution, working from his Lindenhurst home, between January 2013 and February 2014, when he was arrested.
She said he offered them love, a place to stay, drugs, clothing and affection they had not gotten elsewhere, filling “a void” in their lives. But when they did not follow one of his many rules — such as collecting the money before engaging in sex — he could turn violent.
After one infraction, he beat the 21-year-old woman with an electrical cord and used a stun gun on her as another woman watched, Skorupa said. When the victim did not regain consciousness, he tossed her under a cold shower, then threw her down the stairs, the prosecutor said.
The woman said she had just gotten out rehab when she met Gayot through a friend. “The defendant sensed an opportunity and he jumped on it,” Skorupa told the judge. He got the woman to pose in her undergarments and posted pictures on a website catering to men seeking prostitutes, she said.
The witness testified that at Gayot’s direction, she charged $200 an hour, but sometimes more, for sex she usually had with men in their homes or hotel rooms in Suffolk County.
Gayot would take her out before the sexual encounters and pay for hair and nail care, and clothing, but he would keep all the money, even the tips, she got from clients, she said.
If she earned a lot of money in a night — more than $1,000 — she would get, “a reward: more drugs.”
She testified that she was currently incarcerated in the county jail in Riverhead and that she was awaiting the outcome of cases stemming from several arrests in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The trial resumes tomorrow.