Press Release from the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that four southern Missouri men and a St. Louis, Mo., man have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a commercial sex trafficking conspiracy. The indictment alleges that a young, mentally deficient woman was sexually abused and tortured for several years in a Lebanon, Mo., home, and forced to work as an exotic dancer at local strip clubs.
“The allegations contained in this indictment are among the most horrific ever prosecuted in this district,” Phillips said. “The sexual torture suffered over a period of years by the victim is highly disturbing.
“The Human Trafficking Rescue Project is specifically designed to address the problem of human trafficking from every direction,” Phillips added. “We are providing the victims of human trafficking with the protection and support they need. At the same time, as this indictment illustrates, we are prosecuting both the supply and the demand, both the traffickers and their customers.”
Edward Bagley, Sr., 43, and Michael Stokes, 62, both of Lebanon, Mo., Dennis Henry, 50, of Wheatland, Mo., James Noel, 44, of Springfield, Mo., and Bradley Cook, 31, of St. Louis, Mo., were charged in an 11-count indictment that was returned under seal by a grand jury in Kansas City on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010. The indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of the defendants. Henry is the postmaster general of Nevada, Mo. Stokes is a national representative for Disabled American Veterans.
The federal indictment alleges that, from December 2002 to February 2009, Bagley coerced a female victim, identified as “FV,” to become a sex slave and sexually tortured her. Bagley allegedly advertised online that FV could be sexually tortured during live online sessions or in person. The indictment states that Stokes, Henry, Noel and Cook participated in this conspiracy as customers who paid Bagley to sexually abuse and torture FV. The indictment also alleges that Bagley forced FV to work as a stripper and kept the proceeds from that work.
The federal investigation began after Bagley allegedly suffocated and electrocuted FV during a torture session to a state of cardiac arrest on Feb. 27, 2009. FV, who was 23 years old at that time, received emergency medical treatment and was hospitalized.
According to the federal indictment, Bagley enticed FV, a 16-year-old runaway who suffered from mental deficiencies, into his trailer home in December 2002. Bagley promised FV, who had grown up in foster care homes, that he would help her to become a model and a dancer; she was given her own bedroom and provided with clothes and food. Bagley allegedly gave FV marijuana and ecstasy, showed her images of pornography and sadomasochism activities, and began sexually abusing her.
Bagley began sexually torturing FV in February 2004, according to the indictment, when she turned 18 years old and Bagley had her sign a “sex slave contract,” which he convinced FV legally bound her to him as his slave for the rest of her life The indictment cites numerous allegations of a variety of sexual acts, torture, and mutilation over a five-year period.
If FV attempted to stop the activity or cried for help, the indictment says, Bagley escalated the torture. Bagley allegedly threatened to kill FV and demonstrated to her that he could do so by keeping numerous guns in the home. Bagley shot animals that FV cared for in front of her, the indictment says, and bragged about the bodies he had already buried in the woods behind the trailer home. Bagley also threatened to bury FV alive, the indictment says, and showed her a video demonstrating how he intended to do it.
Bagley had FV tattooed to mark her as his property, the indictment says, including a bar code on her neck, a tribal tattoo on her back with the letter “S” to mark her as a slave, and the Chinese symbol for slave on her ankle.
Between February 2005 and February 2009, Bagley tortured FV on live webcasts on the Internet. Noel paid Bagley $300 to watch Bagley torture FV, and to sexually abuse and torture FV. Henry and Stokes also sexually abused and tortured FV, and watched Bagley torture FV. Cook sexually abused and tortured FV and downloaded streaming Internet video of Bagley torturing FV.
Stokes gave Bagley steaks, cigarettes, coats, clothing, lighters and cash. Henry and Stokes paid approximately $2,900 for Bagley to transport FV to California in December 2006 for a photo shoot in which FV performed sexual acts. Henry accompanied Bagley on the trip. Stokes paid Bagley $300 for a torture session, and also gave him money to build a home-made device to sexually torture FV. Cook gave Bradley a hard drive with sadomasochism and torture videos downloaded from the Internet.
In addition to the criminal conspiracy, each of the five defendants is also charged with one count of commercial sex trafficking and one count of using the Internet to facilitate the unlawful activity.
Bagley is also charged with forced labor trafficking and document servitude. The federal indictment alleges that Bagley forced FV to work as a stripper and exotic dancer at adult entertainment clubs from June 2007 to February 2009. Bagley allegedly earned approximately $112,200 from FV’s work. According to the indictment, Bagley punished FV with torture and physical and sexual abuse for failing to be a top earner at the adult entertainment clubs where he had her dance and strip. Bagley allegedly confiscated FV’s identification documents, including her state-issued identification card, birth certificate and Social Security card, at the time he had her sign the “sex slave contract.”
Bagley is also charged with using the Internet for enticement, enticement to travel for sexual activity, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21 and being a drug user in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Bagley and Henry are also charged together in one count of transportation for sexual activity. Cook is also charged with one count of being a drug user in possession of firearms and ammunition.
The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Bagley to forfeit to the government any proceeds obtained from the alleged offenses, as well as any property used to commit the alleged offenses, including $112,200 allegedly obtained by the forced labor trafficking of the victim, two computers, sex toys and paraphernalia and torture devices and 11 firearms. Cook would also be required to forfeit three computers, a hard drive, two Xbox 360s and seven firearms.
Under federal statutes, a conviction for commercial sex trafficking carries a penalty of a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole. A conviction for either commercial sex trafficking or forced labor trafficking that involves aggravated sexual abuse carries a maximum penalty of life in federal prison without parole.
Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.