LEBANON, Mo. (AP) -- 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. In that case, the girl had been flown around the country as a high-priced call girl.
In Missouri, federal prosecutors this week announced an indictment accusing one man of enticing the 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 say the young woman was enticed in 2002 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 her to sign a "sex slave contract" and tattooed with the Chinese symbol for slave.
The woman, now 24, is not identified in court documents. Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in western Missouri, said the woman has received help from social service agencies, but he otherwise declined to comment on her current condition.
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.
A phone number listed for Bagley was disconnected Friday. His Kansas City attorney, Susan Dill, declined to discuss the details of the case when asked for comment.
"My client is innocent until proven guilty," she said.
An attorney for Henry said she hadn't spoken to him yet and had nothing to say, and an attorney for Noel did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday seeking comment.
Stokes and Cook did not have attorneys.
Marvel Lee, 56, who lives in Phillipsburg near Lebanon said the allegations were a little strange for the area but said it showed that bad things can happen anywhere.
"Weirdoes can live everywhere," Lee said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are forced into prostitution every year in the U.S.
Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report from Jefferson City, Mo.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)