OTTAWA -- The owner of two trendy Byward market eateries shouldn't go to jail for three months as punishment for sending lewd e-mails and setting up a fake sex-site profile targeting a diner who posted bad reviews, her lawyer argued Thursday.
Marisol Simoes, 42, has had her reputation destroyed since being convicted of two counts of the rarely laid charge of defamatory libel, Henry Burr said. Both of her businesses, Kinki and Mambo, are suffering financially.
"Ms. Simoes has been effectively tried, convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion," said Burr, who asked for probation or house arrest instead of jail.
"Tomorrow, next week, next year -- this case will follow her, this whole sordid tale."
Burr speculated that his client -- who maintains her innocence -- buckled under the pressure of running two businesses while raising three children and needs counselling.
Crown attorney John Semenoff argued jail time was required to send a message to Simoes not to repeat a crime of "vengeance and venom" towards someone she'd never met and anyone else tempted to engage in "cyber-bullying" in the anonymity of the Internet.
Customer Elayna Katz, who posted a negative review after getting slow, rude service and a dish laced with olives (she can't eat) at Mambo in May 2009, said Simoes' defamation left her an "emotional wreck."
She was ashamed, humiliated, in fear of her safety and said her reputation will forever be tarnished if someone Googles her name.
Katz, who still writes restaurant reviews, wants Simoes to write a letter of apology and post it online.
"I am open to anything - couples, threesomes and group sex," read the e-mail purportedly signed by Katz and sent to her bosses at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2010.
"Am especially into transsexuals and transgenders (being one myself). I am ... a tiger in the bedroom."
The same words were in a profile with Katz's wedding picture posted on an adult site under "men seeking men."
Simoes defamed Katz after she was charged with forgery and attempting to obstruct justice - she pleaded guilty and got a conditional sentence - in a small claims case with her fruit and vegetable supplier.
She now blames a disgruntled ex-employee when the court found she was the only one who had the motive and opportunity to defame Katz, Semenoff said.
"She sees herself as the victim," he said, calling the pattern of behaviour "troubling."