FRANCE: The Little Cats

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An enterprising Parisian pimp named Pierre Sorlut set out two years ago to corner the nymphlet market. Pierre recruited his pubescent charmers among girls aged 12 to 18, first by seducing them and then by arranging dates with wealthy clients with infantile tastes. Pierre's particular prey were the pouting little imitators of Brigitte Bardot, with puffball hairdos and ambitions to become starlets or models. "How could I live without my little cats?" Pierre would say as he collected the earnings of Janine, Colette and Monique. If a girl proved difficult, Pierre would speak musingly of vitriol and its effects on a pretty face. Flashing his out-of-date police card (Pierre was once a police chauffeur), he would add: "You see, I am protected, but you are not."

Rare Encounter. Personable Pierre drove a blue Oldsmobile, dressed nattily, talked of his glamorous past as an Air Force pilot and a Resistance fighter. At least one mother was dazzled to learn that her 13-year-old daughter, appropriately named Rose, whom Pierre was looking after "like a little sister," had been introduced to Andre Le Troquer, 75. then president of the National Assembly. "She's ravishing!" cried Le Troquer, a longtime widower and an authentic war hero who lost an arm in World War I. To Rose he said: "I know that you would like to be a dancer. I have plenty of friends at the Opera." Telephoning Rose's mama, Le Troquer said: "I must congratulate you on having raised your daughter so well. Rose is so sweet, so reserved. This is a young girl such as, unhappily, one rarely encounters today."

Pierre was arrested last year in a complicated affair involving the shakedown of a businessman by a brace of phony policemen. In jail, Sorlut soon began singing, gave the police a score of names of prominent Parisians to whom he had supplied young girls—politicians, manufacturers, department-store directors, a hairdresser, a fashionable tailor, an art curator, a restaurateur, a countess.

Minor Matter. At the trial, mothers came—or were pushed—forward with self-righteous complaints about the corruption of their daughters. Newsmen learned that there had been striptease parties, involving young girls and boys, at the Villa Butard, a onetime royal hunting lodge that was Le Troquer's official out-of-town residence as president of the National Assembly. Some mothers admitted escorting their daughters to Villa Butard and to other addresses in Paris in the belief that it was "in the interest of their careers."

Le Troquer denied everything except that he was acquainted with Pierre Sorlut. He insisted: "To all this I offer a categorical denial without reserve. Besides, I have no taste for minors." It was all a plot, he cried, to embarrass De Gaulle's Fifth Republic and the Socialist Party, in which Le Troquer has been prominent for 40 years. Abruptly the entire affair went off the record, and the hearings were closed to the press and public.

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