Lebanon, Mo. Advocates for victims of sexual slavery said Friday that allegations of torture, branding and sexual abuse of young women and girls, such as those leveled in a shocking Missouri case, are not that unusual.
“The bottom line is torture is common in these (types of trafficking cases), and having them sell the victim is common,” said Linda Smith, a former U.S. House member from Washington who founded Shared Hope International, which rescues victims of sex trafficking. “They are made to do things that you can’t even write.”
Smith said just a few weeks ago she helped rescue and relocate a girl who was enticed by men at age 13, then tortured and used as a sex slave. The girl had been flown around the country as a high-priced call girl.
In another case, seven people pleaded guilty to the 2007 kidnapping and torture of a woman in a trailer in West Virginia. The woman initially said she was raped, forced to drink urine and eat feces and had hot wax poured on her. Although she later recanted, one of the people involved said it happened.
In Missouri, federal prosecutors this week announced an indictment accusing one man of enticing a woman to live with him in his trailer, abusing her and advertising online and in-person torture sessions. Four others were accused of paying to take part in the sexual abuse and torture.
Prosecutors said the young woman in 2002 was invited by Edward Bagley Sr., 43, to live in the trailer in a wooded area near Lebanon, Mo., with promises that she would become a model and dancer with a great life. Instead, prosecutors say she was given drugs and sexually abused as a minor. When she turned 18 years old, the woman was sexually tortured, persuaded to sign a “sex slave contract” and tattooed with several slave symbols.
Federal authorities say their investigation started in February 2009 after the woman was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest, which prosecutors say happened while she was being suffocated and electrocuted during a torture session.
Lebanon, a city of about 14,000 people along Interstate 44, is about 50 miles northeast of Springfield and surrounded by farms and wooded areas.
Danny Marcum, who said he has lived in Lebanon most of his life, said Bagley deserved to be executed if the allegations against him were true.
“To do something like that, that’s right up there with child molesters,” Marcum, 54, said as he volunteered Friday for a charity fundraiser at a civic center. “In biblical times, they would have stoned him.”
Prosecutors have accused Bagley of numerous torture and mutilation acts, including whipping the young woman, electrically shocking her, locking her in a dog cage and forcing her head under water. He also is accused of performing abortions on her and forcing her to strip at adult clubs.
Prosecutors alleged that he threatened her and demonstrated his ability to kill her by shooting animals she cared for in front of her and bragging about bodies he’d buried.