KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Lebanon, Missouri, man pleaded guilty on Thursday to his role in a bizarre “sex slave” case in which a mentally deficient young woman was sexually tortured in a rural mobile home.
Michael Stokes, 63, also known as “The Rodent,” pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to his role in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. According to prosecutors, Stokes became familiar with the female victim in 2006 when he received pictures of her over the Internet in which she was naked with whip marks over her body. Stokes was told that the victim was a slave for “life” who was tortured for hours at a time and was required to do “everything and anything” she was told.
After a few weeks of chatting online, the plea agreement says, a co-conspirator brought the victim to Stokes’ house so she could do a “demo” for him. When they arrived at Stokes’ residence, bringing a duffel bag of torture devices with them, the victim was instructed to “put on a show for us.”
According to court documents, the was naked, wearing only dog collars and ankle collars with locks. Stokes was asked whether he wanted to have sex with her. Stokes said “yes” and he had sex with the victim.
Stokes was stunned that “someone had that much control over someone” and “had never seen anything like it.”
Prosecutors say that Stokes began visiting the residence where the victim was being held. During his first visit, he was shown a photo of the victim’s vaginal opening sewn shut and told this was done to demonstrate “what was expected of her.” The victim was present for these statements and remained silent. Prosecutors say that the victim never talked back or spoke up, and that she never offered herself to Stokes and only acted on command.
According to court documents, it was obvious that the victim was undereducated and had slower mental functioning. Stokes believed she had the educational level of a 13-year-old, and did not have the normal skills of a 20-year-old woman.
Stokes visited the residence eight to 12 times. During these visits, he would receive sexual acts or be allowed to watch or participate in torturing the victim. When he visited he brought steaks, hamburgers, jackets, personalized playing cards, lighters, cigarettes, and cash. Among other things, he witnessed the victim being tortured with a crank phone, with electricity shot through devices clamped to her vaginal and anal openings.
Prosecutors say that Stokes began assisting in promoting the victim at the strip clubs. Stokes took photos of her around to the clubs to promote her there. Stokes gave $1,000 so that the victim could be taken for a sexual bondage photo shoot in California for Taboo magazine. Stokes then took a copy of the magazine to promote her at the clubs. The photos in Taboo magazine were extremely mild and did not depict any of the cruel sessions Stokes had witnessed at the residence.
In 2009, Stokes was warned that there was a FBI investigation involving his conduct with FV. Stokes went on his computer and deleted hundreds of photos, his contacts with other females online, pictures of the victim that he saved, and destroyed his copies of Taboo magazine and the sexual devices that he had acquired.
Under federal statutes, Stokes is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution.
Stokes was the fourth defendant in the case to plead guilty. Bradley Cook, 33, of Kirkwood, Missouri, and James Noel, 45, of Springfield, Missouri, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Cook received 20 years for his role in the case, while Noel is subject to five years in prison plus fines and restitution.
Dennis Henry, 51, of Wheatland, Missouri – and the former Nevada, Missouri, postmaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and to transporting the victim across state lines for sexual activity. He faces up to 15 years in prison plus fines and restitution.