KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A suburban St. Louis man pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in the commercial sex trafficking of a woman prosecutors allege was coerced into being a sex slave and tortured.
Bradley Cook, 33, of Kirkwood, was the third of six defendants to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.
Under the terms of the plea deal, seven remaining charges against Cook will be dropped at sentencing and a 20-year prison term will be recommended. Most of the charges to be dropped allege that Cook tried to hire someone to kill his accuser while he was being held in a federal detention facility in Leavenworth, Kan. Prosecutors also have alleged in court documents that Cook tried to hire a hit man to kill Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Cordes, but no charges have been filed.
The sex trafficking claims that are central to the case revolve around a woman who said she was used as a sex slave for years and came to authorities only after going into cardiac arrest following a torture session. She said she was a teenager when she moved into the rural Lebanon, Mo., trailer of co-defendant Edward Bagley and his wife, Marilyn, who also has been charged.
Prosecutors said Cook watched the victim being abused in live online sessions and in photos and digital recordings that he downloaded from the Internet. They said he also traveled to Lebanon, where he provided sexually explicit images so he could participate in torture sessions.
Prosecutors said Cook witnessed the victim being whipped and locked in a dog cage, as well as being tied up and shocked with multiple electrical devices. Cook described the abuse suffered by the victim as the "most extreme" he had ever seen.
Two other defendants, James Noel and Dennis Henry, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.
Cook's plea deal will leave only Michael Stokes, 63, and Edward and Marilyn Bagley as defendants. Stokes is charged with conspiracy, sex trafficking by fraud, force or coercion and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity.
The Bagleys are facing the same three charges, in addition to forced labor trafficking and document servitude. Edward Bagley is charged with the additional crimes of use of an interstate facility for enticement, enticement to travel for sexual activity, transportation for sexual activity and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Prosecutors said Ed Bagley posted videos and other images on the Internet showing the young woman engaged in sexual activities, describing her as his sex slave who would perform sex acts and submit to torture for other people during encounters online or in person.
Bagley is accused of taking payments of cash, cigarettes, computer hard drives, even meat, to let other men come to his home and torture her. Prosecutors said he also forced the girl to work as an exotic dancer and threatened to punish her if she was not a top earner at the clubs where she stripped.
Bagley's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 13.
Don Ledford, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips, said it isn't known if Cook will testify against Bagley, but the plea agreement doesn't provide him any credit for cooperating with the government. Cook also must pay restitution to the victim and could be on supervised release for the rest of his life under the plea deal.