Prosecutors say the animal trafficking Darren Townsend was complex with wasn’t like what bodies accept apparent on television or in the movies in which a adolescent babe is chained in the basement or kept in a cage.
Instead, they say, the Akron man preyed on adolescent accessible women and affected them to advertise themselves in barter for money, apartment and drugs.
“This was the added subtle, accepted array trafficking that occurs appropriate actuality in Summit County beneath the eye of law enforcement, medical professionals, all of us,” Assistant Prosecutor Tom Kroll said Monday during his aperture account in Townsend’s trial.
Noah Munyer, Townsend’s attorney, however, argued that Townsend is accusable of announcement prostitution, but not of animal trafficking.
“He did actuality wrong,” Munyer said. “He’s not innocent in this. This is a black apple that is one best bodies don’t get to associate into.
“Convict him of what he did,” he apprenticed jurors in Summit County Accepted Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones courtroom.
Townsend, 38, of Akron is the aboriginal actuality in Summit County actuality approved for “trafficking in persons,” which aboriginal became a accountable breach in 2011. Since then, the majority of animal trafficking cases accept been handled at the federal level. Throughout Ohio, there accept been beneath than two dozen “trafficking in persons” trials.
Ohio law defines animal trafficking as, “No actuality shall advisedly recruit, lure, entice, isolate, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or advance … accession actuality alive that the actuality will be subjected to automatic bondage or be accountable to appoint in animal activity,” according to the Animal Trafficking Task Force’s website.
Townsend is answerable with two counts of trafficking in persons, six counts of announcement prostitution, three counts of acute prostitution, and one calculation of allurement accession with drugs.
Pearl Coffey, 35, Townsend’s girlfriend, pleaded accusable beneath an acceding with prosecutors in January to attempted trafficking in persons, acute corruption and allurement accession with drugs. She agreed to affirm adjoin Townsend and hasn’t yet been sentenced.
Prosecutors say Townsend was the ringleader, while Coffey handled the business side.
The declared incidents happened amid August 2016 and February 2017, according to the indictment. They absorb two women, one from Cleveland who was 16 at the time and is now 18 and accession from Norton who was 21 and is now 23, prosecutors say.
Kroll told jurors that the accord amid a pimp and a prostitute is one of “control, abetment and power.” He said the baron finds adolescent women who are accessible because of problems like brainy illness, a burst home or biologic addition.
“The baron knows what he’s attractive for,” Kroll said. “Someone who is able to be groomed, who is affected to coercion, threats. Article in their activity is lacking. They acquisition themselves accomplishing things that would be abominable to all of you.”
Kroll said the earlier of the two victims grew up in an boilerplate household, was afflicted in a car blow in aerial school, was assigned analgesic medication and again became absorbed to heroin. He said she was active in a abode with no lights, calefaction or ability back she met Townsend, who collection a Mercedes and gave her a sample of what she declared as the best heroin she’d anytime had.
When the woman did what she was told, Kroll said, Townsend adored her by absolution her drive his car, giving her money and demography her to get her nails done. Back she was disobedient, Kroll said, Townsend cut off her heroin supply, banishment her into abandonment until she becoming abundant money and he gave her the drugs she craved.
Kroll said the adolescent victim came from a burst home and ran abroad to Chicago at age 15. At 16, she alternate to Northeast Ohio, area she met Townsend. Kroll said Townsend took her to a house, area he raped her and again told her, “You’ll do. You’re good.”
Kroll said Townsend provided the boyhood with clothes and had photographs taken of her that were acquaint on Backpage.com, a website acclimated for prostitution. He said the boyhood awash her anatomy several times a day, seven canicule a week.
Both women, Kroll said, were “scouted out for their vulnerabilities.”
“This wasn’t a affairs best like the accommodation to ablution dishes,” he said. “This was adorable with a affairs predicated on power, manipulation, deceit, concrete and animal violence. It is abiding and ashore in compulsion.”
Munyer, however, said Townsend wasn’t the alone actuality complex in this situation, with others, including Coffey and the two women, additionally arena a part.
“The catechism is: What are you activity to alarm it?” he said.
“The accompaniment has answerable him with a new law that is not brash for this blazon of case,” Munyer said. “There are already laws on the books that awning what he has done.”
The alpha of the balloon was cut abbreviate Monday afternoon back Munyer questioned whether the earlier of the two victims — who had aloof amorphous to affirm — should be brash of her acknowledged rights in case she said article that ability allege her.
Jones absolved the jurors and questioned prosecutors about whether they brash to allegation the woman based on her testimony.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi said prosecutors don’t plan to allegation her, but said she hasn’t been accustomed an amnesty agreement. He said she is a victim in the case.
Jones brash the woman that she has the built-in appropriate not to affirm back it could allege her and additionally the appropriate to an attorney.
“I’m a little abashed here,” the woman said. “What would it booty to be immunized? It sounds promising.”
Jones appointed an advocate to represent the woman.
The balloon will resume with the woman’s affidavit at apex Tuesday. The balloon is accepted to aftermost at atomic a week.
Stephanie Warsmith can be accomplished at 330-996-3705, [email protected] and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.
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