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Charges filed in French players' prostitution case
Los Angeles Times, July 21st, 2010 12:30PM

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The downward spiral of the French national team continued Tuesday when Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema were questioned in a Paris court about a ring of prostitutes that allegedly includes an underage girl who was paid for sex by the players. Preliminary charges were issued against the pair before they were released.

Prostitution is not illegal in France but paying for sex with a minor is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. Zahia Dehar, now 18, has told several French news outlets that members of the French national team paid to have sex with her when she was a minor. Ribery, who is married with two children, allegedly paid for Dehar as a birthday present to himself. She also says on another occasion she met Benzema at a nightclub and was paid to have sex with him.

Ribery and Benzema have denied any wrongdoing. News of the scandal broke before the World Cup, at which Ribery played poorly and France failed to win a game and didn't survive the first round.

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