Human-trafficking, rape, drugging and more charges for men arrested after woman’s plea for help at Lawrence grocery store

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

BJ Lauri, left, and John W. Brown, right.

Two men are now formally charged with a string of crimes — including human trafficking, kidnapping and rape — against a woman who reached police after asking for help at a Lawrence grocery store early Saturday morning.

BJ Lauri, 44, and John W. Brown, 50, both of Lawrence, were arrested later that day and made their first appearances this week in Douglas County District Court.

Both are charged with committing multiple crimes on Saturday against the same 38-year-old victim, according to criminal complaints.

Lauri is charged with rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated human trafficking, aggravated assault and criminal threat, all felonies. He’s also charged with two misdemeanors, battery and unlawful administration of a substance, for allegedly giving a substance to impair a person without consent.

Prosecutors allege that Lauri forced or coerced the woman to involuntary servitude or forced labor — either involving kidnapping, or for sexual gratification of himself or another person — according to the human trafficking charge, which includes an alternative charge.

Lauri is jailed on $200,000 bond, court records indicate.

Brown is charged with kidnapping, a felony, as well as unlawful administration of a substance and battery, misdemeanors.

Brown is jailed on $50,000 bond, according to court records.

Attorneys were appointed for both defendants at their first court appearances on Tuesday.

About 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Lawrence police responded to a report of suspicious activity in progress at Hy-Vee, 4000 W. Sixth St.

A woman there was asking for help from a store employee, who called police, Sgt. Amy Rhoads previously told the Journal-World. The woman reported to police that she’d been held against her will and that, during that time, “a series of alleged criminal events took place.”

Rhoads said the woman’s physical injuries were not believed to be life-threatening but that she was unable to share more details about her condition.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

BJ Lauri

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

John W. Brown

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd