A Costa Rican woman sex worker, identified as Jane Doe, alleged in a lawsuit that four Fairfax, Virginia, officers protected a local sex ring and paid for sex
The officers allegedly involved former Police Chief Edwin Roessler, Captain James Baumstark, and officers Michael Barbazette and Jason Mardocco
Doe claimed in court on Tuesday that she was lured from her country by a madam named Hazel Marie Sanchez Cerdas, who was busted by the FBI in 2018 and put in jail
She claimed officers informed Sanchez of potential investigations and covered for the sex trafficking ring
Roessler retired as chief in 2021 after more than three decades in the Fairfax County Police Dept
Baumstark retired as a police captain in 2015 after nearly three decades in the dept and is now deputy police chief in Asheville, N.C.
When the suit was first filed in 2021, it didn’t include all of the officer’s names except for Capt. Roessler.
Baumstark, Barbazette and Mardocco have been added to the lawsuit even though “there isn’t a shred of physical evidence” linking them to the case, their attorneys said
A woman from Costa Rica who said she was coerced into commercial sex work in the United States alleged in federal court this week that a former Fairfax County police chief and three former officers paid for sexual acts and protected a human-trafficking ring in Northern Virginia before federal prosecutors busted it in 2019.
The woman who is a sex worker, alleged that four retired police officers from Fairfax, Virginia, protected the human trafficking ring she was coerced into and paid for prostitutes. who went by Jane Doe, claimed in a Fairfax County federal court on Tuesday that former police chief Ed Roessler and three others covered up the ring in exchange.
Former police chief Roessler’s attorney has debunked the accusations.
The woman, who went by Jane Doe, blasted the four officers in court on Tuesday, including former Police Chief Edwin Roessler, Captain James Baumstark, and officers Michael Barbazette and Jason Mardocco.
Doe was living in Costa Rica when she was lured to the US to join the ring that was run by a madam named Hazel Marie Sanchez Cerdas, before it was busted by the FBI in 2018.
She later went on to file a lawsuit in 2021.
According to a lawsuit filed by Doe, the defendants ‘conspired to cover up the fact that Fairfax County police officers were actively participating in, and benefiting sexually if not financially from, the work of a local sex trafficking ring,’ where women were required to have sex with up to 17 customers a day.
According to the Washington Post, Doe trembled in tears while giving her testimony last week while claiming Sanchez threatened to take away the passports of the women she recruited from Costa Rica if they didn’t listen to her demands.
The woman thought she would be working as a nanny, housekeeper, or social escort with Sanchez allegedly telling her that she would also be going on dates to business dinners and events with wealthy men.
Under the impression that she was only taking a two-week trip, Doe met Sanchez in a Fairfax apartment in 2010 after flying to the U.S.
Sanchez then took Doe’s travel documents and threatened her family if she didn’t work as a prostitute. She managed to escape in 2015.
Doe claimed in court that the four officers conspired with Sanchez Cerdas and chose to benefit from the sex ring rather than help the victims.
Barbazette and Mardocco’s numbers were found in the madam’s phone at the time of the FBI raid which led to their retirement. In emotional testimony, Doe also described the degrading sexual acts she said Sanchez forced her to perform under threat, and alleged that the officers failed in their duties.
“They had to protect us,” Doe said of the four officers.
“They had to not be the clients. They didn’t have to protect the Hazel ring.”
At one point, the judge called a brief recess as she broke down in tears.
Doe claimed the only defendant she recognized at the trial was Barbazette.
Meanwhile, a witness took the stand and alleged she was paid to have sex with Mardocco.
Mardocco was described by Sanchez as ‘another protector of ours’ and supposedly called Sanchez at one point and said ‘there’s going to be a sting in your building apartment, do not let the girls work.’
The witness also claimed to have recognized Roessler.
One witness involved in the sex trafficking scheme claimed on Tuesday to have recognized Roessier. When the suit was first filed in 2021, it didn’t include all of the officer’s names except for Roessler.
Kimberly Baucm, an attorney representing Baumstark and Roessler called the accusations ‘preposterous,’ according to The Washington Post.
Roessler, who retired as chief in 2021 after more than three decades in the Fairfax County Police Department, and Baumstark, who retired as a captain in 2015 after nearly three decades in the department and is now deputy police chief in Asheville, N.C., were added to the lawsuit even though “there isn’t a shred of physical evidence” linking them to the case, Baucom said.
“Not a single piece of paper, not a phone call, not a text message, not an email,” Baucom told the jury. “The claim that either Mr. Roessler or Mr. Baumstark were somehow involved in a sex-trafficking organization is preposterous. It’s made up of whole cloth. It’s simply false.”
Meanwhile, Barbazette and Mardocco attorneys said the two confessed to hiring prostitutes but claimed the circumstances Doe describes are false.
None of the officers have been charged.
Sanchez was revealed as the mastermind who brought multiple women from Costa Rica to the U.S. over the course of several years, according to court documents, and forced them into commercial sex work in cities and towns across the country, including those in Fairfax.
She pled guilty to felony racketeering and was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison in August 2019.
The suit also alleges that police tipped Sanchez off to sting operations. The FBI investigated at least two officers for corruption but ultimately referred the matter to the FCPD for follow-up.
When the suit was first filed in 2021, it didn’t include all of the officers’ names except for Roessler.
Victor Glasberg, the lawyer who filed the complaint on Doe’s behalf, said at the time that his client was never able to learn their names.
But he obtained a court order requiring the police department to identify the officers described in the complaint.
Defense attorneys questioned the woman and Doe about inconsistencies between their testimony at trial and what they said in earlier depositions or in their original FBI interviews. In an early interview with the FBI, Doe said she was lured to the United States expecting to work as a nanny and housekeeper, only to be forced into commercial sex by people threatening to harm her son in Costa Rica. But she later conceded that she knew she could make money from being an escort, after the FBI questioned her based on an email she had received before the trip, which showed different rates she could charge for such services.
“She’s not a trafficking victim,” Baucom said, noting that Doe reported her trafficking allegations to U.S. authorities only after she was denied a green card. In one sharp exchange, Baucom questioned Doe’s claim that she believed the escort-service rates she received by email were for dating men, with no sex involved.
“What kind of date did you think you were going on with a man for 15 minutes?” Baucom asked, noting that one of the rates was $100 for 15 minutes.
Sanchez pled guilty in 2019 to a charge of interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises. She was sentenced to 2½ years in prison after admitting that she managed “unlawful prostitution activity” for five other women, who are identified only by their initials in Sanchez’s case documents.
Appearing as a witness at Doe’s trial, Sanchez said that of the four defendants, she recognized only Barbazette.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said in Sanchez’s plea documents that C.V.A. and Doe were trafficking victims. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen C. Cain wrote in a 2019 sentencing brief that Sanchez took advantage of vulnerable women who spoke little to no English.
“Our society should not condone the sexual exploitation of women for profit. Nor should our society condone manipulative and coercive tactics that are commonly employed to keep women working in prostitution and that were used in this case,” Cain wrote.