The young woman at the center of the historic downfall of the governor of New York is finally speaking out.
Ashley Dupré, the 23-year-old former escort who was the target of intense media scrutiny in the days after Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation from public office, has stepped forward to give her first television interview. Dupré told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that she does not feel responsible for Spitzer's downfall.
"If it wasn't me, it would have been someone else," she said. "I was doing my job. I don't feel that I brought him down."
In March, the media discovered Dupré was "Kristen," her alias at the Emperor's Club V.I.P., the high-end escort service that had arranged her rendezvous at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., with Spitzer. Soon after the story broke, Dupré sought refuge at her family's home in New Jersey.
"I felt like it was surreal, like it wasn't happening," she said. "But it was."
The insight Dupré gives into the world of high-end prostitution is a continuation of Sawyer's recent and extensive reporting on the profession "Prostitution in America."
Dupré's situation raised questions about how an upper middle class girl from New Jersey, whose stepfather is a prominent oral surgeon, could become an escort.
She told Sawyer that, as a child, she was a "happy kid" who "got along with everybody" and was particularly close to her older brother, Kyle Youmans. She changed her last name to Dupré because she didn't have a close relationship with her biological father.
"I wanted a new name to go along with me," she said. "I've been searching for so long for that identity of who I am." In high school, Dupré was an honor student, worked in a restaurant and "never really socialized and went ... to any of the parties, the high school parties."
"I got along with everyone, I was kind of popular," she said. "I was pretty popular."
But Dupré also told Sawyer about her struggles with drugs, running away from home at 17 and troubled relationships with men in her life.
"I was an angry 17-year-old," she said. "I was so confused and I didn't understand my emotions. Where I became self-destructive."
At 19, Dupré moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She was working three jobs when someone gave her a business card for the escort service.
"You don't mean to make those choices but you're put in a situation and, you know, you have an opportunity to do it," she said.
"I really didn't see the difference between going on a date with someone in New York, taking you to dinner and expecting something in return," she said. "I really thought it was more of a trade-off. He's expecting something in return when you date, whereas, you know, being an escort, it was a formal transaction."
"The media thinks that I'm this crazy partyer and, you know, I like limelight and I want to be out and socializing," she said. "And I would love nothing more than to sit at home and watch a movie. And hang out with my dog, or cook with some close friends."
Dupré said she worked on and off for the escort service and, after being left by a boyfriend with a $3,600 apartment lease to pay off, medical bills and a heavy load of credit card debt, she returned to the agency. Four weeks later, she went to Washington, not knowing that she was meeting a governor.
Dupré says she initially didn't know the identity of the man referred to in court documents as Client No. 9.