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Tori Stafford trial

Rafferty linked to escort service

Hank Daniszewski, QMI Agency

LONDON, ONT. - 

A woman who thought she had an exclusive relationship with accused child killer Michael Rafferty agreed to set up an escort service and give him the money, jurors in his murder trial heard Friday.

The former girlfriend, Charity Spitzig, testified she worked as an escort and gave Rafferty more than $16,000 in the six months before eight-year-old Tori’s Stafford’s slaying.

That sum included $500 deposited into Rafferty’s account the day the eight-year-old Woodstock girl was abducted.

Spitzig, 26, is a mother of five who lived in London in 2009. She was one of many women who connected with Rafferty through the online dating site Plenty of Fish.

Spitzig testified one of her children had died.

Earlier in the trial, one of Rafferty’s girlfriends said he was upset about a stepson who had died.

Spitzig testified Friday she hoped to marry Rafferty and “move on as a family.”

“It was pretty promising -- exclusive, you could say,” Spitzig said.

Spitzig, still living in Southwestern Ontario, said she and Rafferty discussed their financial situation.

“We discussed me going into the escorting business, which I did, and from there on in any money that I was making would go directly to him.”

Bank records presented in court show Spitzig deposited $16,835 into Rafferty’s account from December 2008 to May 7, 2009.

That amount didn’t include cash she handed to Rafferty directly, Spitzig testified.

On the morning of April 8, 2009, the day Tori vanished on her way home from school, Spitzig deposited $400.

About 1 p.m., she said, she received a message from Rafferty that he needed “gas money,” prompting her to deposit another $100 into his account.

Rafferty told most of his girlfriends he was a dance instructor and contractor, but there’s been no evidence so far that he was actively engaged in either occupation.

Following Spitzig’s testimony, Rafferty’s lawyer, Dirk Derstine, asked for the jury to be excused to discuss legal issues.

When the jurors returned, Justice Thomas Heeney cautioned them that testimony that Rafferty was dating numerous women, including an escort who supplied him with money, isn’t relevant to the charges he faces in the Stafford case.

“All of this may lead you to believe that Mr. Rafferty was a philandering cad or worse . . . Whatever you may think of Mr. Rafferty’s character, it has no relevance to whether he is guilty of the crimes he is charge with,” Heeney said.

The court also heard from Elysia Haid, 23, who testified she and Rafferty had sex in his Woodstock home the day after Stafford was murdered.

Haid was a Sarnia college student in the spring of 2009 and met Rafferty through the Plenty of Fish dating website.

She first met him face-to-face at a hockey game in London on April 4, 2009. She said Rafferty texted her on April 8, the day Stafford was abducted, and asked her about getting together the next day.

Haid said she went to Rafferty’s house on the morning of April 9, went for a drive and then had sex with him in the afternoon.

When she left, she testified, Rafferty told her he was going to a candlelight vigil for Tori.

In his cross-examination, Derstine noted Haid seemed unsure of the date of that encounter in a earlier statement to police. But Haid insisted it was April 9.

The court also heard from three other women who met Raffety through online dating and chat sites.

Patrycja Demidas, Celina Horvath and Tara MacLelland, were all questioned about records showing they’d received calls or messages on from Rafferty’s Blackberry on April 8.

Demidas said the calls were about an “argument” she was having with Rafferty and the other two women had no recollection of the calls.

Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in Tori’s death.

Terry-Lynne McClintic, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case and was sentenced to life in prison.

The trial resumes Tuesday to deal with a legal issue. The jury isn’t scheduled to return until Wednesday.

-- With files by John Miner