French surrogate mother guilty of conning gays

Blois - A French court on Tuesday convicted a woman of defrauding two gay couples who hired her as a surrogate mother, handing her a one-year suspended jail sentence.

The prosecution had recommended that the defendant, named only as Aurore, be sentenced to a year in jail with nine months suspended.

Surrogacy is illegal in France, and the two gay couples, along with two other couples, one gay and another heterosexual who bought babies from Aurore, were each given suspended fines of €2 000  ($2 250).

Using pseudonyms such as "Little Stork" and "Sincere Angel", Aurore landed her first successful contract in 2010 with a male homosexual couple in western France, agreeing to carry a child for them for €15 000.

The due date was March 21 2011, but when the time came she sent a text message to the couple claiming that the child was stillborn.

In fact the baby boy was born in perfect health and sold for around €10 000 to another gay couple living in Luxembourg.

In 2012, she promised a baby to another male gay couple for €15 000 euros, then had the child but told them it died. Instead she sold it to a straight couple in northern France.

By the time Aurore, now 37, was arrested in 2013 she was in contact with another three couples and was charged with fraud and attempted fraud.

Experts said the defendant, who testified that she had been raped by her father as a teenager, suffered from "major emotional neglect" and low self-esteem.

Aurore claimed it was altruism which initially led her to help childless couples.

She already had four children in 2008 when she became pregnant with an unwanted fifth child, a baby girl that she offered for free to a Parisian couple.

"I just wanted to make people happy," Aurore told the court in the Loire Valley city of Blois as the trial opened in January.

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