|Michael A. Stokes (mug shot)|
A Lebanon man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in the sex trafficking of a young, mentally deficient woman.
Michael A. Stokes, 63, is among a group of six people who coerced the woman into being a sex slave for several years while she was tortured in a trailer in a wooded area in Lebanon.
The abuse of the woman was uncovered after she was taken to a hosptial near death after being electrocuted during a torture session in February of 2009.
|Some of the abuse took place inside this trailer|
Stokes, also known as The Rodent, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to his role in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Stokes’ guilty plea marks the fourth and final person in this case to be convicted under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Stokes became familiar with the female victim (FV) in 2006 when he received pictures of her over the Internet, allegedly from her "master" Edward Bagley, in which she was naked with whip marks over her body. Stokes was told that the victim was a slave for “life” who was tortured for hours at a time and was required to do “everything and anything” she was told.
|Edward Bagley (mug shot LCSO)|
After a few weeks of chatting online, the plea agreement says, a co-conspirator brought the victim to Stokes’ house so she could do a “demo” for him. When they arrived at Stokes’ home, bringing a duffle bag of torture devices with them, FV was instructed to “put on a show for us.” FV was naked, wearing only dog collars and ankle collars with locks. Stokes was asked whether he wanted to have sex with her. Stokes said “yes” and he had sex with FV.
Stokes was stunned that “someone had that much control over someone” and “had never seen anything like it.”
Stokes began visiting the home where FV was being held. During his first visit, he was shown a photo of FV’s vaginal opening sewn shut and told this was done to demonstrate “what was expected of her.” FV was present for these statements and remained silent. FV never talked back or spoke up. FV never offered herself to Stokes and only acted on command.
It was obvious that FV was undereducated and had slower mental functioning. Stokes believed she had the educational level of a 13-year-old. FV did not have the normal skills of a 20-year-old woman.
Stokes visited the homne eight to 12 times. During these visits, he would receive sexual acts or be allowed to watch or participate in torturing FV. When he visited he brought steaks, hamburgers, jackets, personalized playing cards, lighters, cigarettes, and cash. Among other things, he witnessed FV being tortured with a crank phone, with electricity shot through devices clamped to her vaginal and anal openings.
Stokes began assisting in promoting FV at the strip clubs. Stokes took photos of FV around to the clubs to promote her there. Stokes gave $1,000 so that FV could be taken for a sexual bondage photo shoot in California for Taboo magazine. Stokes then took a copy of the magazine to promote her at the clubs. The photos in Taboo magazine were extremely mild and did not depict any of the cruel sessions Stokes had witnessed at the residence.
|Issue of Taboo with victim|
In 2009, Stokes was warned that there was an FBI investigation involving his conduct with FV. Stokes went on his computer and deleted hundreds of photos, his contacts with other females online, pictures of FV that he saved, and destroyed his copies of Taboo magazine and the sexual devices that he had acquired.
Under federal statutes, Stokes is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution.
Stokes is the fourth defendant in this human trafficking case to plead guilty.
Co-defendant Bradley Cook, also known as PutHer2GoodUse, 33, of Kirkwood, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, 2011, for his role in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.
|Bradley Cook (mug shot)|
From 2006 to 2009, Cook watched the victim being sexually abused and tortured in live online sessions and as depicted in photos and videos that he downloaded from the Internet. Cook admitted that he traveled to Lebanon on multiple occasions during that time to engage in sessions of sexual acts and torture with the victim. In exchange, Cook paid the victim for these sessions with such items as computer hard drives that contained images and videos of bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, which he had downloaded from the Internet.
Cook also admitted he was aware of other men who engaged in sexual acts and torture with the victim. He witnessed the victim being whipped and locked in a dog cage, as well as being tied up and shocked with multiple electrical devices. Cook described the abuse suffered by the victim as the most extreme he had ever seen.
In a binding plea agreement, the government and Cook jointly recommend to the court a set sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole. Cook must also pay restitution to the victim. In addition to the sentence of imprisonment, the court may impose a term of supervised release up to life. Cook must also forfeit to the government the computer media he used to commit the offense.
Co-defendant Dennis Henry, 51, of Wheatland, formerly the postmaster of Nevada, Mo., pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Henry also pleaded guilty to transporting the victim across state lines for sexual activity.
|Dennis Henry (mug shot)|
Henry admitted he engaged in sex with the victim, and participated in torture sessions with FV that would last for hours. Henry saw pictures of FV's vagina sewn shut, which he was told was a form of punishment. Henry also admitted that he visited FV at a strip club in Lebanon where she was forced to work.
Under federal statutes, Henry is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution.
Co-defendant James Noel, 45, of Springfield, also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. Noel admitted he was one of the customers who sexually abused and tortured FV. Noel watched the victim being tortured and sometimes operated torture devices himself beginning in 2006, when she was approximately 20 years old. For example, Noel knew that FV hated being electrocuted with a crank phone (which was wired inside FV's vaginal and anal openings and to her toes), which he described as extremely painful, but he used it on her anyway.
|James Noel (mug shot SCCO)|
Under federal statutes, Noel is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution.
The trials for Edward Bagley and his wife, Marilyn, who is also facing charges connected to this case, is scheduled to begin on February 13, 2012.
This case was investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.