A 63-year-old man agreed Thursday to help federal prosecutors prove their case against a Lebanon, Mo., couple accused of enslaving and torturing a young woman in their trailer home.
In pleading guilty to conspiracy for his own role in the scheme, Michael Stokes, also of Lebanon, agreed that the couple used “force, fraud or coercion” to imprison the young woman in a life of sexual abuse and suffering.
The issue of whether the woman consented to live with Edward and Marilyn Bagley in a legal sado-masochistic lifestyle is likely to be a large issue when the couple goes to trial later this year.
But in his plea paperwork, Stokes said the young woman did not agree to the abuse.
“It was clear that (the woman) did not want these things done to her,” Stokes’ plea agreement read. “Bagley was not into the ‘role play’ aspect of the Bondage Domination Sadism Masochism … lifestyle, but was a cruel and sadistic person who wanted to control and damage (the woman).”
Edward Bagley’s lawyer, Susan L. Dill, attended the hearing in Kansas City but declined comment on the plea.
Stokes faces up to five years in prison.
Since September 2010, federal prosecutors have charged six people in the alleged human trafficking conspiracy. With Stokes’ appearance Thursday, four of the defendants — all customers of the enterprise — have pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors have alleged that in 2002 Bagley persuaded a 16-year-old girl to live with him and later coerced her into becoming his sex slave.
Charges have alleged that the Bagleys sexually abused and tortured the young, “mentally deficient” woman for several years at their Lebanon residence and also forced her to dance at local strip clubs.
The investigation began after the woman was hospitalized in February 2009.
Stokes said he first met Edward Bagley and the woman in 2006 and visited his home up to 12 times, often having sex with the woman or watching and participating in her abuse.
The visits culminated in an incident in which the woman was not restrained while Bagley allegedly shocked her repeatedly.
“(She) was flopping around as her body pulsated,” according to Stokes’ plea agreement. “(She) screamed and cried while Bagley continued to electrocute her.”
Between jolts of electricity, the woman purportedly crawled toward Bagley and begged him to stop, but he allegedly refused, court records said.
“After this incident, Stokes realized this arrangement was far beyond what he could endure,” the agreement stated. “Stokes never returned to the Bagley residence for sexual sessions.”
Stokes once paid Bagley $300 for a torture session, and gave him steaks, cigarettes, coats, personalized playing cards and lighters to participate, prosecutors alleged. He also purportedly gave Bagley money to construct a motorized machine to which the woman was strapped and then sodomized for hours at a time.
During his plea hearing, Stokes sought to clarify for the judge one aspect of his relationship with the woman.
“I didn’t know this woman until she was 20 (years old),” Stokes said. “I wanted that known by you.”
The Bagleys are scheduled to go to trial in February. Dill has asked for a delay, however, to allow her to find an expert to counter anticipated testimony from prosecution psychiatrist Park Dietz.
According to court records, defense lawyers expect Dietz to describe Edward Bagley as a “criminal sexual sadist” and psychopath. The defense expert would discuss whether Bagley’s alleged conduct, and the young woman’s participation, could have been part of a legal bondage and sado-masochistic lifestyle.
Any continuance could delay the trial for at least six months. One government lawyer has scheduled leave during that period and the victim already has delayed surgeries to repair external and internal damage she sustained during the alleged abuse, prosecutors said.