JEFFERSON CITY — Five Missouri men are accused of taking part in the sexual torture of a young woman allegedly kept as a sex slave by one of the men and forced to work as a stripper, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Federal prosecutors describe the woman, now 24, as mentally deficient and say that she grew up in foster homes. They said one of the men, Edward Bagley Sr., 43, of Lebanon, invited her to live in his trailer in southern Missouri starting in 2002 and promised to make her a model and dancer and give her a great life.
Bagley is accused of giving her marijuana and ecstasy and sexually abusing her while she was a minor. Prosecutors say that when she turned 18, Bagley started to sexually torture her and persuaded her to sign a "sex slave contract." He tattooed her with a bar code on her neck, a tribal mark on her back with the letter "S'' to mark her as a slave and the Chinese symbol for slave on her ankle, prosecutors allege.
The four other men are accused of paying Bagley to be involved in sex acts and in the torture of the young woman, who is not identified in court documents. The other defendants in an 11-count indictment released by prosecutors Thursday were Bradley Cook, 31, of St. Louis; Dennis Henry, 50, of Wheatland; Michael Stokes, 62, of Lebanon; and James Noel, 44, of Springfield.
Federal authorities say their investigation started in February 2009 after the woman was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest, which prosecutors say happened while she was being suffocated and electrocuted during a torture session.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in western Missouri said all five were in custody and that none had an attorney. The U.S. attorney's office said a hearing was scheduled for next week.
There was a busy signal Thursday evening for a phone number registered under Bagley's name. A phone number listed for Henry had been disconnected, and there was no answer for a phone number listed for Stokes. Messages each left on phone numbers listed for Noel and Cook were not immediately returned Thursday.
U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called the charges "highly disturbing."
"The allegations contained in this indictment are among the most horrific ever prosecuted in this district," Phillips said in a written statement.
According to court documents, Bagley is accused of numerous torture and mutilation acts. That includes whipping the young woman, electrically shocking her, locking her into a dog cage and forcing her head under water or pouring water on her face. He also is accused of forcing her to dance and strip at adult clubs.
Cook, Henry, Stokes and Noel are accused of offering cash, cigarettes, computer hard drives, meat and other items to Bagley so that they could be involved in torture sessions and sex acts with the woman. Henry and Stokes also are accused of paying for Bagley to take the woman to California in 2006 to perform sex acts during a photo shoot.
The U.S. attorney's office said Henry is the postmaster general in Nevada, Mo., city of about 8,400 people near the Kansas border.
Among the charges, all five defendants face one count of commercial sex trafficking. If convicted of that charge, the minimum sentence is 15 years in prison without parole, and the maximum penalty if the case involves aggravated sexual abuse is life in prison.