KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The details of consensual sex that occurred between a man and his wife should not be used as evidence that the man sexually abuses women, a defense attorney in a southwest Missouri sex slave case said in court documents filed this week.
Susan Dill, attorney for Edward Bagley, filed a motion Monday asking U.S. Magistrate Richard Larsen to preclude the government’s use of evidence regarding consensual sex between Bagley and his co-defendant wife, Marilyn.
“Because the government will allege these are bad acts committed against Marilyn, it will cast Edward Bagley as a bad actor and Marilyn Bagley incorrectly as a victim,” Dill wrote.
Ed Bagley, 45, and Marilyn Bagley, 47, are scheduled to stand trial in February on several charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity. The charges involve a woman who prosecutors say was 16 years old when she moved into the couple’s trailer near Lebanon, Mo., in 2002 and was forced to be Ed Bagley’s sex slave.
He is accused of giving her drugs, sexually abusing her while she was a minor and torturing her after she turned 18.
The Bagleys claim the woman came to them and asked to be part of their kinky lifestyle, while the government says Ed Bagley started grooming the woman to be his sex slave while she was still a minor, which would be illegal.
In August, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they plan to introduce evidence of “sadistic sexual assaults” committed by Bagley against his wife. While acknowledging those sex acts were consensual, prosecutors cited Missouri law that says consent is not a defense against abuse when serious bodily injury is involved.
The Bagleys were involved in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, in which extreme or even bizarre sex acts are part of the lifestyle. Federal prosecutors contend many of the acts amount to torture, especially when performed on the girl.
The case is being closely watched by BDSM advocates, who argue that the government has no business telling people what they can do in their bedrooms, no matter how shocking some of the acts may be to non-practitioners.
“The government must stay out of the bedrooms (and all other private places) of mutually consenting adults, no matter how violent or shocking the activity,” said John Katz, a Silver Spring, Md., defense attorney whose law office specializes in sexual freedom issues. “Lawrence v. Texas underlines that the government may not penalize consensual sodomy between adults, no matter how much such activity offends many people on religious grounds. Once we let government restrict our neighbors’ sexual activity, it is just a matter of time before government sticks its nose further into our otherwise private lives.”
Lawrence v. Texas is the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down Texas’ sodomy law and held that private, intimate relationships between consenting adults were constitutionally protected.
Prosecutors have declined to comment on details of the case beyond what’s in court documents.