Singer Yamir Gorritz has never shied away from the cameras.
He appears frequently on racy Miami Spanish-language variety shows. His YouTube page features music videos with throbbing merengue beats. Gorritz has even talked openly about a leaked sex tape he made with a Puerto Rican pop star named Noelia.
But now, Gorritz is garnering attention he almost certainly doesn’t want: Police believe he is part of a ring that prostituted a Miami woman on the notorious website BackPage.com.
Gorritz, 36, surrendered late Monday to face a charge of human trafficking and deriving proceeds from prostitution.
“My client is looking for his day in court. He’s definitely proclaiming his innocence,” said his lawyer, David Seltzer. “He had nothing to do with this. He is looking forward to getting back to his career.”
Miami police had earlier arrested a Latin entertainment industry publicist named Mariela Perez, who is alleged to have arranged hotel rooms and clients for the young woman. Her lawyer called the charges a “travesty of justice.”
Another suspect, Kristian Joseph, 32, was arrested and appeared in Miami-Dade bond court on Monday.
The Puerto Rico-born Gorritz was once the boyfriend of pop star Noelia, the daughter of renowned singer Yolandita Monge, who was nominated for a Grammy in 1987.
Gorritz and Noelia made a sex tape that appeared online in 2007, a story that exploded in the Spanish-language media. He admitted giving the video to a Puerto Rican paparazzo working for Noelia’s stepfather, with whom she had feuded with for years.
“I handed it over because I feared for my life; the way they spoke to me on the phone was not very pleasant,” he told People en Español. “I feared for my life, for the safety of my kids, and of my wife. I gave it to them thinking it was in good hands.”
He claimed the release of the sex tape ruined his career in Puerto Rico.
In recent years, Gorritz has become a staple on the Miami Spanish-language channel AmericaTeve. On his YouTube page, Gorritz posts clip after clip of appearances on TN3, a daily variety show that often features scantily clad women.
In the criminal case, Gorritz and the others are accused of forcing a young adult woman to prostitute herself through BackPage.com, which police have decried as a hub for illegal sex trafficking.
According to Perez’s arrest report, undercover detectives arranged a meeting with the teen, who then pinpointed the players. Perez admitted to arranging the trysts but “lacked knowledge of the sexual acts,” the report said.
Her attorney, Menachem Mayberg, blasted the police’s case, saying the so-called victim is lying to save her own skin after being busted for prostitution. Perez only gave her friend a ride, he said.
“This is a travesty of justice,” Mayberg said.
Perez is also alleged to have forced the victim to take diet pills – to be skinnier – or risk being outed as a prostitute to family. Mayberg called the allegations “ridiculous.”