Part 3: The Family Business

Canal Street Brothel

So how did three generations of women end up in the same brothel?

"The night I was molested, my mother was out, and I had nobody to scream out to. I went to the bathroom when my uncle was finished with me and I scrubbed and scrubbed my stomach till it was raw," remembers Jeanette, who says she was just 6 years old at the time of the molestation.

"I'm scrubbing myself, cleaning myself and my mother comes home after a night of partying. I don't know what happened that night, but she decides that she's going to kill herself. So here I am in my own pain, but now I'm taking care of my mother and her pain."


Tommie Taylor, Jeanette's mother, is not one to talk about hurt. She grew up on streets of New Orleans, in a string of bars run by her mother. She was a bride at 15, a widow with children at 19.

"Because of all the pain my mother was in, my mother would drink a lot, come home, cry and tell me all these horrible stories," says Jeanette. "I didn't want to burden her with what was going on in my life."

Jeanette was on her own at an early age. In order to feed herself, she learned an awful lesson that she says was taught to her by her uncle – you'd receive a present if you did what a man wanted. She turned her first trick –all for a quarter -- for a man who lived in the neighborhood. She was 8 years old.

She was shooting drugs at 12, gang raped and left for dead at 13, and a prostitute and mother of two by 23.

"When I found out she was into it, it almost killed me," says Tommie, who found out about her daughter by reading the newspaper. "I opened up the front page and my daughter has been arrested for prostitution and pandering. I was not well, but I came to terms with it because she is my daughter, and my child, and I love her regardless of whatever her choices are."

Years later, Tommie made the choice to work in her daughter's brothel.
"There's nothing I'm going to be able to say that's going to justify why I was involved in this," says Tommie, who at the time was on the verge of being evicted from her apartment.

"The thought of being homeless scared the hell of me. It really did. So to all those people that think the worst about me, 'Hey, I'm paying for it, and I'm paying good.'"


Monica, however, has paid dearly her entire life.

"I watched my mother taken away in handcuffs, I've been molested, I've been raped, I've been my mother's mother," says Monica, who was experiencing Jeanette's life all over again – from the abuse and pain to the drugs and prostitution.

"There were times I would come home and I just wanted to bathe in bleach. And that was normal for me," adds Monica. "That's how I saw my mother do it. So if my mother did it and it was good enough for her, then what makes me so special that there's something else out there for me?"

Monica says Jeanette pushed her into working for the Canal Street Brothel, but Jeanette says she did it to protect her daughter, who had threatened to sell herself on the street.

"I knew she'd be safe with the guys I've known for 20 years," says Jeanette. "She wouldn't get hurt."

But how does she feel about her daughter working?

"I feel horrible as a mother. I feel like a failure," says Jeanette. "But to have her work in this house is a lot better than not knowing what's going on out there."

Jeanette once promised Monica that her life would be different. But one life was spun from the other

Now, what will it take to keep Monica's daughter, Nevaeh, from following in her mother's footsteps?

"The thought of her thinking of herself as a piece of meat for a price, I'd rather die," says Monica.


Six months after the indictments, Jeanette Maier is running scared. She, her mother and her daughter could all go to jail.

"I would hope they wouldn't do that to me," says Jeanette.

Since the Canal Street Brothel went out of business, Jeanette has had to find a new way to make ends meet. His name is Gaylord Burgau, a businessman who knew what he was getting into. He booked Jeanette's girls for his clients.

"Right now, Gaylord is taking care of me, and he's been an angel," says Jeanette. "Someone who's come in at a time when I needed it most, so he's basically supporting me."

"One way or the other, there's no such thing as free," says Burgau. "I'm the type that just gives her a couple hundred and says, 'Lets go do what we've got to do' and don't waste time."

"I don't understand why we're in this position," adds Tommie, who's now living with Jeanette to cut down on rent. "We ran a tatty little whorehouse. A whorehouse."

A simple little family-run business in New Orleans, says Jeanette.


Meanwhile, the bills keep piling up - a heap of financial ones and a mountain of emotional debt that can never be repaid.

"Everyone says, 'How could you work your daughter,'" says Jeanette. "My daughter was on the road to working herself, and I felt that my house, at least I knew. She promised she'd go to school … that if she made some money, she would get on her feet, and she would do the right thing."

Jeanette set Monica up with Dr. Howard Lippton, the same doctor who helped bring down the brothel. She says it was her way of keeping Monica safe. But she kept it a secret from Tommie.

"I went, 'Oh my God, no. This cannot be,'" says Tommie, who fought tooth and nail to keep her granddaughter out of the business. But over time, the calls came in, and Tommie took them.

"It hurt," says Monica, knowing that her grandmother was taking the calls. "It didn't hurt from my mother. Who it hurt from was my grandmother."

Monica says there was a time when the only place she ever felt secure was with her grandmother.

"The first time she called me up and said she had an appointment, it was like somebody took a dull knife and carved my heart out."

Who does Monica blame for her life and the road she's traveled down?

"I blame my grandmother," says Monica. "Had my mother not lived the life she had, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Tommie blames herself for what happened to Jeanette. "I couldn't do what I wanted to do for my kids. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't give them enough."

"The whole sad truth is my mother was a widow with two kids," says Jeanette, defending her mother. "My mother had to survive."

But Tommie wishes she could have given her children more. "Wouldn't it pain you, if you felt like you failed? As a result, my daughter's a notorious whore madam, I'm the brothel keeper, and here we are."

Monica says she is determined to break the cycle of pain and prostitution that grips her family, but she can't do it from a jail cell. Her worst fear is to be locked away from her daughter, Nevaeh.

"To not be able to wake up and see her face, you know? I can't handle that," says Monica.


"I'm scared to death. I don't know why I'm scared," says Jeanette. "I'm not scared of anything. Why do I feel like I'm walking the last mile?"

At the end of this mile sits a courthouse and a judge. It's sentencing day for the Canal Street madam and the brothel keeper.

"I have every right to be nervous but I have belief in the system that they'll do the right thing," says Jeanette.

In a courtroom closed to cameras, Judge Ivan Lemelle brought up the abuse Jeanette suffered as a child, and said it would affect her sentence.

The judge went on to say this whole case could be described as "dysfunctional" and he suggested the FBI had better things to do with its time.

Bottom line – probation, but no jail time for Tommie or Jeanette.

"I feel as though it's given me a new opportunity to start a new life," says Jeanette, who will have to serve six months in a halfway house and pay a $10,000 fine.

But will the names of the people who patronized the Canal Street Brothel ever come out?

"If I have to put out names in order to sell books, I'll do it,"
says Jeanette.

"This isn't bribery or extortion. I'm just saying I have fines to pay. I took my responsibility. They didn't. I'm going to do what I have to do to pay my fines without going to jail again. And if this is the way I have to do it. This is what I'll do."

And when she says names, she means judges, doctors, politicians, restaurateurs and sports figures.

But the stakes were even higher for Monica since she's made a promise to her daughter she's determined to keep.

"She's made comments to me that she will do whatever it takes to make sure that Nevaeh does not fall into a life of prostitution," says David Courcelle, Monica's attorney.

"I'm asking the federal government to step back and take a look at this situation. She was thrust into this by her family. I hope that she'll be able to avoid jail time."

But there is no storybook ending for Monica. She avoided jail, but she lost the thing most precious to her. She lost custody of Nevaeh. She was accused of neglect, a charge she vehemently denies.

"Just when I thought I had seen the light at the end of the tunnel. And to have her taken away from me it's heart wrenching," says Monica.

"Because I made a promise to her when she was born that I would protect her and keep her. And I feel as though I failed at that."

Throughout this case, all three women have insisted theirs was a victimless crime – and nobody got hurt. Maybe now they can see more clearly how much they were hurting themselves.

"I want all the pain to stop. The pain with my children, the pain with this family," says Jeanette. "I just want it to stop."

Until Neveah comes home, Monica is left with a song to remind her of her daughter.

"It's asking God to send me an angel to take the pain away," says Monica, who promises herself that Nevaeh's life will be different. "The pain is … I can't put that into words."


Monica's life has seen a dramatic change for the better in the year since 48 Hours Investigates first brought you this report.

After finishing parenting classes and going through drug testing, Monica now has her 2-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, back with her. But a decision on final custody has not yet been made.

Her mother Jeannette and grandmother Tommie estimate that in the six years they ran the Canal Street Brothel, they made more than a million dollars. But they say that today they have nothing left.

And with their unconventional family business now out of business, all three women must now find a whole new way of life.

Part 1: The Canal Street Brothel

Part 2: Uneasy Street