KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A federal grand jury has returned an 18-count indictment against a Missouri couple accused of torturing a mentally impaired teenage girl in live webcasts while she was kept a virtual prisoner and sex slave in their trailer home.
The victim, who also was forced by the couple to work as a dancer in local strip clubs, escaped her enslavement after she was hospitalized for a heart attack suffered during a torture session, the indictment alleges.
Edward and Marilyn Bagley, of Lebanon, Missouri, each faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted on either of the two principal charges against them -- sex trafficking or forced labor trafficking involving aggravated sexual abuse, federal prosecutors said.
Wednesday's indictment joins Marilyn Bagley, 45, with her husband and four other co-defendants originally charged in the case last September. The four others essentially were involved as the Bagleys' customers, prosecutors say. Two of them already have pleaded guilty.
Edward Bagley, 43, is newly charged with possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a violent crime. And one of two men still accused of paying to watch or participate in torture sessions is now also charged with an alleged murder-for-hire scheme to silence the victim once she began cooperating with investigators.
The Bagleys are accused of first luring their victim, a foster child and runaway who was then aged 16, into their home around December 2002, promising her a "great life" and help to become a model and dancer.
Instead, the indictment says, the victim was constantly exposed to sexual abuse, pornography, sadomasochistic activities and drugs as the couple turned her into their private "sex slave."
For five years, between February 2004 and February 2009, according to the indictment, Edward Bagley tortured the victim in live Internet webcasts. He also is accused of taking photographs of his wife sexually abusing the victim.
The indictment also says the Bagleys forced her to work as a stripper for two years, confiscating the $112,200 she earned and beating her for not being a top earner at the clubs.
When she turned 18, Bagley had her sign a "sex slave contract," convincing her the document was legally binding. He also tattooed her as his property, the indictment says.
The abuse finally came to light when the woman ended up in a hospital emergency room for treatment of cardiac arrest she suffered from electric shocks and suffocation during a torture session in February 2009. By then, she was 23.
The victim, who prosecutors described as being "mentally deficient," has since been referred to social service agencies to assist her in recovering from her ordeal, said Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy and James B. Kelleher; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Bohan)