Ex-stripper describes her time with accused spy
LOS ANGELES -- A former stripper befriended by accused FBI spy Robert Hanssen said Monday their relationship was strictly platonic, despite her attempts to have it more than that.
"He never did make a pass at me; I made a pass at him," Priscilla Sue Gailey told CNN's Larry King Live in her first public comments about their relationship. But, after Hanssen expressed no interest, she never attempted to make their relationship more than simple friendship, she said.
Gailey said she was working as a dancer in 1991 in Joanna's 1819 Club, less than two miles from FBI headquarters in Washington, when Hanssen watched her and then told a waitress he had never expected to see anyone of such grace and beauty in a strip club.
When the waitress relayed the compliment to Gailey, "I think I chased him to thank him," Gailey said. "It was so beautiful, I had to know who had given it to me."
Thus started what became an approximately 14-month relationship, during which the agent gave her $2,000 to fix her teeth and another time "he helped me with my bills," Gailey said.
In addition to taking the dancer on trips to France and Hong Kong, Hanssen bought Gailey a sapphire necklace, a computer and a Mercedes, she said. He also gave her an American Express card to use to pay expenses related to the car, she said.
"He said, 'When you drive up in a Mercedes, they're not going to ask if you go to college; they're going to treat you right," she recalled.
Their relationship began six years after Hanssen allegedly began spying for the Soviet Union and then the Russians.
The counterintelligence expert with 25 years of bureau experience was arrested in February in a Virginia park minutes after he allegedly left a package under a wooden footbridge. Investigators say the bridge was a "dead drop" site for delivering secret documents to his Russian handlers.
Prosecutors allege Hanssen, 56, was paid $1.4 million in cash and diamonds for his activities.
"He was just extremely generous," Gailey said, adding that the FBI agent told her he had received an inheritance. "He was wonderful, a wonderful human being."
During their meetings, Hanssen talked lovingly of his wife and six children, Gailey said. And he talked about his Catholic beliefs. "Every chance we could discuss religion, it was right there."
Gailey said Hanssen urged her to quit dancing and go to church and she came to regard him as a father figure.
But Gailey's efforts did not fulfill his ambitions for her. She never was able to figure out how to use the computer; the car -- which she had not insured -- was wrecked in an accident; Hanssen took away her credit card when she used it to buy Easter dresses for her nieces.
Gailey served a year in prison for complicity for aggravated trafficking, a charge she denies. "I was supposed to have helped somebody sell drugs," she said.
She also worked as a prostitute. "I had a boyfriend who said it turned him on," she said. She and her boyfriend, who is now in prison, have a three-year-old son.
After Gailey was released from prison, Hanssen visited her one last time in Columbus, Ohio. "You could tell that I probably wouldn't be hearing from him anymore, and I never did," she said.
Gailey said she was stunned when she heard years later that Hanssen had been arrested. "I know that's silliness, but somewhere I have this feeling there's this huge mistake, or there was a threat on his life or his family. I just can't believe he did it."
If it turns out Hanssen was indeed a spy, Gailey said, she wants to know why. "He had everything going for him. There was no reason for him to turn against his country."
Gailey now supports herself and her son doing temp jobs, and she has agreed to write a book about their relationship. "Even though he's in prison, the man is still helping me."
Lawyers and prosecutors the Hanssen case have agreed to an earlier date of May 31 for the arraignment of the accused spy on the 21-count indictment handed down last week.
Hanssen's lead attorney, Plato Cacheris, told CNN Tuesday he had a scheduling conflict with the initial June 1 arraignment date.
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