Friday, September 10th, 2010.
A Kirkwood man arrested by the FBI on Thursday was one of four Missouri men who paid a fifth to either watch him torture a mentally disabled woman online or torture her themselves, prosecutors said.
The 20-page federal indictment, unsealed with the men's arrests Thursday, contains accusations of sexual and physical torture lasting five years, acts that U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called "among the most horrific ever prosecuted" in the Western District of Missouri.
The alleged torturer, Edward "Master Ed" Bagley Sr., 43, of Lebanon, Mo., tattooed the woman to mark her as his slave, convinced her that she was legally "bound" to him and threatened her, prosecutors said. He also is accused of forcing her to work as a stripper.
Bagley tortured the woman for five years, until he induced a heart attack while suffocating and electrically shocking her on Feb. 27, 2009, prosecutors said. She was hospitalized.
Her hospitalization sparked an 18-month investigation that led to the charges.
Those alleged to be customers for the woman's forced services included Bradley Cook, 31, of the 11500 block of Big Bend Road in Kirkwood; Dennis Henry, 50, of Wheatland, Mo.; Michael Stokes, 62, of Lebanon; and James Noel, 44, of Springfield, Mo., prosecutors said. Henry's occupation was listed as postmaster general of Nevada, Mo., but that could not immediately be confirmed Thursday evening. Cook, according to state records, is a licensed real estate broker associate.
The indictment alleges that Bagley met the woman when she was 16 and a runaway and persuaded her to move into his trailer with promises of a "great life" and a future as a model and dancer.
She got her own room, furniture and TV, and Bagley began giving her drugs, showing her pornography and sexually abusing her, prosecutors said.
When she turned 18, he persuaded her to sign a 'sex slave contract," which he said bound her to him for life, prosecutors claim.
Bagley "beat, whipped, flogged, suffocated, choked, electrocuted, caned, skewered, drowned, mutilated, hung and caged" the girl "to coerce her to become a 'sex slave,'" the indictment says. It adds that he tied her up and hung her in the air, locked her in a dog cage and used staples, nails and a sewing needle and thread during torture sessions too violent to describe.
For the full article click here.
This story, which broke last week, is one of the most disturbing and horrific that I have heard. This case should remind us of the urgency of the issues Ashley Keller discussed in her analysis of the intersections of human trafficking and disability issues: "[USAID also reports] that the rate of child prostitutes with mild developmental disabilities is six times greater than what is expected within the general population. This marginalized group is underrepresented and does not have access to the tools they need to become empowered. . . As Human Rights Watch notes “disabled women and girls face the same spectrum of human rights abuses that non-disabled women face, but their social isolation and dependence magnifies these abuses and their consequences”. . . We, as moral, rational and reasoning beings, cannot allow these people to be swept under the rug and forgotten any longer."