Courtesy of backpage.com
The suspects used websites such as backpage.com to allegedly promote prostitution.
By Forum Staff
A 32-year-oldPennsylvania man and a 29-year-old Brooklyn woman have been indicted by a Queens County grand jury on charges of sex trafficking, kidnapping, promoting prostitution and other crimes for forcing a 21-year-old woman into prostitution.
Defendants Elizabeth O’Sullivan, 29, of 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, and Lee Vargas, 32, of Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania were on a 22-count indictment variously charging them with first- and second-degree kidnapping, sex trafficking, second- and third-degree promoting prostitution, fifth-degree criminal possession of marihuana, third- and fourth-degree tampering with a witness, third-degree intimidating a victim or witness, third-degree assault and forcible touching. The defendants if convicted, were ordered to return to court on May 8, 2017. District AttorneyBrown said that, according to the charges, O’Sullivan and Vargas traveled to Massachusetts in October 2016 and picked up the victim, a 21-year-old woman, and brought her to Queens to work as a dancer/stripper and earn money for them. After her arrival in Queens, the victim was allegedly forced to have sex on a daily basis with numerous men in exchange for money turning over all proceeds to the defendants.
On one occasion the victim began to cry and Vargas repeatedly slapped and choked her and threatening he and O’Sullivan would harm her further if she didn’t stop crying.
The victim managed to reach out to her family, who notified police and an undercover rescue operation was initiated in which an officer allegedly responded to an advertisement posted on Backpage.com in January, and was directed to a hotel on Main Street in Flushing. Later that night the victim allegedly met with the undercover officer at the hotel and offered and agreed to have sexual intercourse with him in exchange for $200. At 4:00 a.m. the following morning, police returned to the hotel and found the defendants in a vehicle in front of the hotel with marijuana burning in the ashtray. They were placed under arrest, and a vacuum-sealed bag of marijuana was found in O’Sullivan’s pants.
Authorities say that in addition O’Sullivan contacted a friend of the victim in late January, trying to scare the victim into not testifying in the grand jury which resulted in making both the victim and her friend fearful of testifying.
If convicted the defendants who each face up to 25 years to life in prison, “face a lengthy prison term for sex trafficking – a vile and very violent, degrading crime that will not be tolerated,” said DA Brown.