Holy man, hooker & hush money: Prostitute sued in Austria for blackmailing priest for €400,000

© Reuters
A Romanian prostitute has been taken to court in Austria after a priest claimed she blackmailed him for more than €400,000 (US$440,000). The man says that he pitied the woman, often visiting her workplace - but no sex was involved.

The 29-year-old woman, who was living in the town of Eisenstadt, eastern Austria, was reportedly blackmailing the clergyman for more than two years – from October 2012 to March 2015, local ORF TV said. She told the priest that if he didn’t pay her, she would tell his superiors that they had had sex. 

The man, originally from Eisenstadt, was studying in a theological seminary in Switzerland at the time of the blackmail. Media reports suggest that he is no longer a man of the cloth.

According to defense lawyer Alexander Philipp, the priest pitied the prostitute, who originated from Romania, and regularly visited her in her workplace to talk. The talk never involved sex, according to both sides.

The parties, however, had different opinions on the amount of money the man had given the sex worker. Philipp said the priest gave his client “a maximum of €60,000-70,000” and that she didn’t blackmail him at all.

However, the former cleric claims the prostitute received some €400,000 from him via blackmail. He said he first met her in a Vienna street. Since then he apparently visited her out of pity.

Pity was also the main reason he gave her €8,000 after she said her family was experiencing hardships and her father was sick. However, she received the ensuing amounts of money solely “through blackmail,” the plaintiff says.

Yet the case has some vague and inexplicable details. For example, the victim said that the prostitute wanted €15,000 for breast reduction surgery. The sex worker rejected this allegation on the basis that “It's my job. Why should I reduce my breasts?”

The ‘blackmail’ trial has been postponed for an indefinite time as Austrian authorities need access to relevant documents demanded from the Romanian authorities. If found guilty, the blackmailer could face a decade in prison.