A grand jury has indicted two Queens men on kidnapping, rape, sex trafficking and other charges for allegedly forcing three girls – ages, 13, 15 and 16 – to work as prostitutes through mental and physical intimidation and with raping them. The cases are independent of each other and have no connection.
According to DA Brown, both defendants are accused of enslaving the three young girls, raping them and forcing them to work as prostitutes. The girls were then forced to surrender all of the money they were paid.
The defendants were identified as Peter Gerardi, 28, and Christopher Stephensbush, 20. The defendants were arraigned separately, Gerardi charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first- degree criminal sexual act, second-degree kidnapping, compelling prostitution, sex trafficking, second-degree promoting prostitution, second-degree rape, second-degree criminal sexual act, third-degree promoting prostitution, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He was ordered held without bail and will return to court on December 19, 2013. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
Stephensbush was charged with first-degree kidnapping, first- degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, sex trafficking, second-degree promoting prostitution, third- degree promoting prostitution, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to the charges Gerardi first approached the 13-year-old victim on the street and allegedly asked her to perform sexual acts with men in exchange for money and gave her rules to follow, instructions on how much to charge and to lie about her age, among other things. She reluctantly agreed to prostitute herself for him but that when she wanted to stop, he became violently angry. She allegedly tried to escape after that but he found her and grabbed her forcefully and threatened to find her if she ever left her again. Gerardi also allegedly had sex with the victim and had her perform oral sex on him on multiple occasions.
Gerardi made the victim have sex with numerous men in exchange for money between March and September of 2011, all of which she was required to turn over to him.
Gerardi also had a 16-year-old girl work as a prostitute for him under threats of physical violence and with whom he had sex and whom he had perform oral sex on him.
It is further alleged that the 13-year-old victim escaped from Gerardi in September 2013 and that he sent two female friends after her who beat her up according to his orders.
In the Stephensbush case, allegations say he met his 15-year-old victim in June 2013 when she was changing buses on the way to school in the morning and talked to her. Thereafter, he brought her to his Queens apartment between June 12-14, 2013, and would not let her leave until she earned money for him doing prostitution. It is additionally alleged that he raped her several times during this period of time before temporarily letting her go.
The following week he again told her that she had to make money for him doing prostitution, which she did over the course of three days. On one occasion, the victim tried to sneak away and go home but Stephensbush caught her and slapped her. Several weeks later, in July 2013, the victim was transferring buses and found Stephensbush waiting for her. He told her to walk with him and not to make a scene. Stephensbush told her he needed money and had two prostitution dates waiting in the apartment and that if she did both dates he would let her leave. The victim did both dates and Stephensbush allowed her leave.
Stephensbush, who faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted, is presently being held in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. He is next scheduled to appear in court on February 4, 2014.
By Samantha Geary