National Affairs: The Guilty Student

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In Manhattan, some of the harsher facts of life finally caught up with 23-year-old Playboy Minot F. Jelke. Flexing his jaw muscles nervously, "Mickey" Jelke, pudgy heir to an oleomargarine fortune, last week heard a blue-ribbon jury pronounce him guilty of enticing 19-year-old Model Pat Ward into a life of high-priced prostitution, and of attempting to duplicate this success with onetime Hatcheck Girl Marguerite Cordova.

Jelke's trial had provided a Roman holiday of rare proportions for New York's tabloids. Though newsmen were barred from the court during the two weeks in which the prosecution presented its case, they had little difficulty in digging up daily accounts of glittering vice, café-society style (TIME, Feb. 23). In its final week (after reporters had been admitted to the court), the trial took on the throbbing dramatic tones of a soap opera. Mickey's Social Registered mother, stately Mrs. Ralph Teal, unhappily admitted that a number of her son's sinful friends had been guests in her home, and that she had finally asked Mickey to stop bringing Pat Ward home with him. Despite her dislike for Pat, however, Mrs. Teal had not been very alarmed. Said she "I thought it was just another girl he liked . . ."

To give the case a final fillip, the defense couldn't find one of its witnesses, 19-year-old Grace Appel, an old East Side chum of Pat Ward (who was born Sandra Wisotsky). Not until the opposing lawyers had delivered their summations did Miss Appel appear in court, convoyed by Columnist Walter Winchell, who had thoughtfully extracted an exclusive interview before persuading her to come out of hiding. Unfortunately for the defense (and for Winchell), however, "Mystery Witness" Appel had nothing much to say, the chief mystery being why the defense had bothered to call her.

A few moments after Jelke's conviction last week, a court clerk, busily filling out his records, asked the prisoner what his occupation was. "Student," said Jelke, after a whispered conference with his attorneys. Student Jelke, who will be sentenced March 20, was liable to a maximum term of 40 years in prison, but the all-male jury (eleven married men and one bachelor) had recommended that the judge show clemency.