Wife accused in Lebanon, Mo., sex slave case pleads guilty

The wife of a Missouri man accused of brutalizing and sex trafficking a young woman confirmed Thursday that the woman was a minor when the sexual activity began.

Marilyn Bagley made the admission in court records filed with her guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to commit commercial sex trafficking.

Before her plea at a hastily called hearing Thursday morning, Bagley, 47, was scheduled to go to trial in February with her husband, Edward Bagley, 45, of Lebanon, Mo.

“She is in the unique category of being a victim turned perpetrator,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Cordes said at the hearing.

Marilyn Bagley’s plea agreement recommends that she be sentenced to probation. If the sentencing judge does not agree with that recommendation, Marilyn Bagley will be permitted to withdraw her plea and go to trial.

Prosecutors have alleged that in 2002, Edward and Marilyn Bagley offered help to a troubled a 16-year-old girl, who moved in with them the following year. Authorities allege that Edward Bagley began having sexual intercourse with her before her 18th birthday. After she turned 18, he allegedly coerced her into becoming his sex slave. He purportedly tortured her, with the help of other defendants, until she was hospitalized in February 2009.

Edward Bagley allegedly sexually tortured and mutilated the young woman with techniques that the indictment described as “flogging, whipping, shocking, choking, piercing, sewing” and “stapling.”

At times, the indictment alleged, he nailed her most intimate body parts to slabs of wood, sewed private orifices closed, waterboarded her and used a crank telephone to force “high levels of electric voltage” through very sensitive parts of her body.

Susan Dill, Edward Bagley’s lawyer, has argued that the relationship was consensual and merely part of the bondage, discipline and sadomasochism lifestyle.

But Marilyn Bagley’s plea Thursday could moderate the impact of the consent argument. She confirmed in court records that Edward Bagley’s sexual relationship with the alleged victim began when before she turned 18, the age at which she could have given consent under federal law.

Prosecutors had described that relationship before, but, with Marilyn Bagley’s admission, they have someone other than the victim to confirm it.

Dill said she still was trying to sort through the plea but was surprised that it happened without her knowledge. No public notice had been posted ahead of time.

“I think it’s interesting that the media received notice of this hearing and I did not,” Dill said.

Though the plea agreement does not state explicitly that Marilyn Bagley will testify at her husband’s trial, it does allow for that possibility. The agreement notes that any untruthful testimony she gives at trial would be grounds to void the plea bargain.

Marilyn Bagley admitted that she helped prepare the alleged victim for her life as a sex slave, including teaching her how to “respond and behave for (Edward Bagley) as his slave,” court records said. Marilyn Bagley also admitted participating in sexual assaults using sex toys and her arm to penetrate the woman.

Marilyn Bagley was the fifth defendant to plead guilty in the case. Michael Stokes, 64, Bradley Cook, 34, Dennis Henry, 52, and James Noel, 47, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy counts and acknowledged that they also had roles in torturing the young woman.

Neither Marilyn Bagley nor her lawyer, P.J. O’Connor, commented after the hearing.

The relationship between Edward Bagley and his wife had arisen in the case before.

Last summer, prosecutors filed a notice with the court saying they planned to introduce photographs and videos of “sadistic sexual assaults” that Edward Bagley had committed on his wife that were similar to the acts he allegedly committed on the young woman.

Dill urged a judge to strike such evidence, saying they were the acts of consenting adults in the privacy of their home.

“These were not activities that Edward Bagley primarily enjoyed,” Dill wrote. “They were activities in which he agreed to participate at the request of Marilyn Bagley.”