Another day, another reported incident of American government personnel having run-ins with prostitutes abroad.
A lawyer for a Brazilian “sex professional and dancer” says his client plans to sue the U.S. government, three Marines, an American staff member, and one of the Embassy’s Brazilian drivers for injuries allegedly sustained in an incident in Brasilia late last year, the Associated Press reports.
What happened depends on who you ask. Cezar Britto, the lawyer, told the AP that his client, Romilda Aparecida Ferreira, met the four Americans at a nightclub called Apples on December 29, 2011. She and three other women left with the men in three vehicles, two of which belonged to the embassy. Britto claims that one of the Marines pushed Ferreira out of one of the vehicles after an argument with the driver, and that his client broke her collarbone, two ribs, and punctured a lung when the vehicle then ran her over. Antonio Rodrigo Machado, another of Ferreira’s lawyers, told The Los Angeles Times that the fight started after the driver didn’t want to help the women speak English with the Americans.
“We’ll be suing the U.S. Embassy because it authorized the use of a vehicle that was used for attempted murder,” Machado said.
The State Department offered its version of the story at a press briefing on Thursday.
“[M]y understanding is that she was initially in the car; she was asked to leave the car; she got out of the car; the doors were closed. As the Pentagon guy said, the vehicle was at rest. And then, as they started to drive away, she chased after the car, tried to get back in, and that’s when she was hurt,” Victoria Nuland told reporters. Asked if Ferreira was run over, Nuland responded that “I do not have that she was run over by the car.”
According to Nuland, none of the Americans involved in the incident are still in Brazil (Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in Brazil on Tuesday, told reporters that those involved “were reduced in rank and they were severely punished for that behavior,” adding that “I have no tolerance for that kind of conduct, not here or any place in the world.”), cooperation has been given to the Brazilian authorities investigating the incident, and the State Department is still conducting an investigation into the conduct of its employee.
Dean Cheves, information officer at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, told TPM in a phone interview Friday that the embassy had been in touch with Ferreira and local police “immediately” after the incident.
“After our initial investigation, all four [Americans involved] were removed from the country,” he said.
Cheves told TPM that, as far as he knew, U.S. personnel interacting with prostitutes is “definitely not common.”
Cheves stressed that no lawsuit has yet been filed.
Britto told the AP that his client had turned down an offer from the embassy of 4,000 reais ($2,115), saying that they had asked for 150,000 reais ($79,370), instead. Cheves told the AP he did not “know of any particular numbers.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com