By BILL DRAPER AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman accused with her husband of forcing a teenage girl to be a sex slave for years in their mobile home pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal conspiracy charge in a deal contingent on her being sentenced to probation.
Marilyn Bagley, 47, admitted that she helped groom the girl to be her husband’s sex slave after the teen moved into the couple’s trailer in February 2003 in southwest Missouri. She began living there intermittently the year before.
Bagley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in exchange for prosecutors dropping all other charges against her and recommending that she serve only probation. If the judge rejects the recommendation, she can plead not guilty again and go to trial. There was no indication of when the judge might rule on the matter.
Prosecutors said the girl was a mentally deficient runaway who was recruited at the age of 16. Bagley said the girl moved in when she was 17 and never had sex with her husband until after she turned 18.
Thursday’s hearing was not announced beforehand and came as a surprise to the attorney for Bagley’s husband, Ed Bagley, who is scheduled to stand trial in February. Susan Dill said she was disappointed that nobody told her about the hearing and questioned why it was kept so hushed.
“I really question why this was done in secret, and I wasn’t given notice as I would be normally,” said Dill, who declined to speculate about how the Marilyn Bagley’s plea deal might affect her husband’s case.
Three men – James Noel, Michael Stokes and Dennis Henry – have pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and are awaiting sentencing. A fourth man, Bradley Cook, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and is expected to be sentenced to 20 years as part of his deal with prosecutors.
In their plea agreements, all four admitted going to the Bagley home to watch or take part in the sexual torture of the girl in exchange for money, cigarettes and other items.
Ed Bagley, 45, is charged with 11 federal counts, including conspiracy, sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, and forced labor trafficking. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors declined to comment about the plea because Ed Bagley’s case is still pending. Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to say why Thursday’s hearing was kept quiet.
“It’s unusual for a plea hearing to be held that hasn’t been previously announced on the court docket, but it does happen,” he said. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s rare.”
Marilyn Bagley’s attorney, P.J. O’Connor, also declined to comment about the plea deal, in which prosecutors agreed to drop charges of sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity against his client.
Prosecutors said the couple promised the girl, who grew up in foster care homes, “a great life” in which they would help her become a model and dancer and make her “dreams come true.”
Federal authorities began investigating the couple in February 2009 after the victim was taken to a hospital in cardiac arrest, which prosecutors said happened while she was being suffocated and electrocuted during a torture session.
Marilyn Bagley told The Associated Press last year that the victim collapsed while getting ready for work, not while being tortured. The couple had claimed the sex acts, including some the government characterized as torture, were consensual as part of their bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism lifestyle, in which they said the young woman was a voluntary participant.