The former police chief of Fairfax County, Virginia, and three ex-officers are on trial for allegedly covering up a sex trafficking ring, as one of the victims – an illegal immigrant – took the stand accusing the four law enforcement members of being clients of the prostitution enterprise they allegedly allowed to operate.
A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., this week heard testimony from a woman, identified as Jane Doe, during a civil trial against four former members of the Fairfax County Police Department: the former Chief Edwin Roessler, James Baumstark, a former captain who is now the deputy chief in Asheville, North Carolina, and officers Michael Barbazette and Jason Mardocco, FOX 5 DC reported. None of the four men have been criminally charged, and a lawyer for Roessler and Baumstark dismissed the allegations as “preposterous.”
The woman testified that she was lured from Costa Rica by Hazel Sanchez to come to Virginia to work as a nanny and high-end escort who would spend time with wealthy clients but did not necessarily have to have sex with them. Instead, according to Sanchez’s 2019 guilty plea, women were forced to have sex with as many as 17 men a day, including being subjected to dangerous and degrading sex acts.
Sanchez, sentenced to just 2.5 years in prison for admitting she managed “unlawful prostitution activity,” confiscated the passports of five women and threatened to contact U.S. immigration authorities if they did not comply with her demands.
Doe’s lawsuit alleges that the retired Fairfax police chief and three officers protected the human trafficking ring operating in northern Virginia until it was busted in 2019 by the FBI.
Doe argued that Roessler, Baumstark, Barbazette and Mardocco violated federal law by obstructing efforts to investigate and prosecute Sanchez.
She alleges the four all hired sex workers themselves through the same madam. Taking the stand, the woman broke down while testifying about the degrading sex acts Sanchez forced her to perform on clients under threat and said the officers failed in their duties by not breaking up the ring.
“They had to protect us,” Doe said of the officers, according to The Washington Post. “They had to not be the clients. They didn’t have to protect the Hazel ring.”
Barbazette and Mardocco allegedly admitted being clients of Sanchez and resigned from the department when their phone numbers were discovered on the madam’s phone, FOX 5 reported.
But Kimberly P. Baucom, an attorney for Baumstark and Roessler, argued her clients were only added to Doe’s lawsuit later on when it gained publicity, arguing “there isn’t a shred of physical evidence” linking them to the case, The Post reported.
“The claim that either Mr. Roessler or Mr. Baumstark were somehow involved in a sex-trafficking organization is preposterous. It’s made up of whole cloth. It’s simply false,” Baucom told the jury.
The attorney further argued Doe was “not a trafficking victim” but a “voluntary sex worker” who fabricated claims in her lawsuit seeking monetary damages.