sk-brothel-charges-saskatoo

Police in Saskatoon said people in this house were engaged in prostitution. ((CBC))

A posting to the online classified-ad site Craigslist tipped police in Saskatoon to a home being used for prostitution, a court has heard.

Gui Ping Li pleaded guilty Tuesday to running a brothel or, according to the formal charge, a common bawdy house, at 504 Queen St.

The Crown lawyer on the case said police were suspicious about the goings-on in the home based on how it was advertised.

"I would think if you look for a massage therapist under the erotic services section of Craigslist, you should well know what services are being offered," Sheryl Fillo told CBC News on Tuesday after court proceedings. "As far as I know, none of the people that worked there were licensed massage therapists."

According to information provided to the court, police also engaged in an undercover operation to learn how transactions were handled.

Customers were offered a massage and were also told that, for $200, they could buy sex from one of the women working there.

After pleading guilty, Li was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to donate $1,000 to AIDS Saskatoon. She must also forfeit her car and belongings that were seized from the house.

Li's lawyer noted his client could have fought the charge and made reference to an Ontario court ruling that found some elements of the Criminal Code section on prostitution and maintaining a brothel were unconstitutional.

That case is under appeal.

"It's a difficult decision," Si Halyk, Li's lawyer, said about the choice his client made in pleading guilty. "She had to face the costs of taking that challenge, the time it's going to take and extend over years before it's concluded, hanging over her head. As opposed to ending up with a discharge with no criminal record."

While Li's matter was going through the court process, a judge sealed portions of the file which contained the names of the registered owners of vehicles that parked near the premises and where someone from the vehicles went inside.