KANSAS CITY, Mo. — “The thing that bothers me most is that he preyed on a 17-year-old girl who knew nothing.”
Those are the words of Lauren, who’s now 25 and asked us not to use her last name. She’s talking about photographer Mario Antoine who is facing more than a dozen federal charges for luring young women from across the metro into performing sexual acts.
Lauren said she fell into Antoine’s trap because she had hoped to be a model and posted an ad on Craigslist. Antoine responded almost immediately and took photos for free so that she could build a portfolio.
She thought she could trust him when a few months later he contacted her again, telling her she could make $15,000 if she agreed to star in a pornographic video with him.
“He told me I had to audition… and do several different sex acts (with him), which I did,” Lauren said.
Antoine said she passed the audition, but would have to wait until she was 18 to actually be in a porn film. Within days of her 18th birthday, Antoine brought over a camera and a contract and shot the film. He never gave her a copy of the contract, but told her the money would be in her bank account a few days later.
When the money never arrived, Lauren called him.
She said Antoine told her, “Oh, you don’t get the money because you broke a rule of the contact by telling someone what you did.”
Lauren said she hadn’t told anyone, but she knew she’d been taken.
She said she tried to forget about the experience and move on with her life, but then two years ago Antoine contacted her, threatening to release the video to friends and family members unless she agreed to shoot another one with him.
Lauren ignored his threat, but according to a federal indictment, other women didn’t. One woman told the FBI that Antoine blackmailed her. He threatened to release old pornographic images he had shot of her unless she either paid him $9,000 or had sex with him.
Much of what Antoine is accused of doing was committed while he was out on probation after being convicted of scamming couples out of wedding photos. A state prosecutor warned the judge then that Antoine would offend again if he was released — something the judge said was necessary to allow Antoine the chance to work and repay his victims the money he stole from them.
“Our fear is that any restitution he is ordered to repay will simply be stolen from someone else,” the prosecutor said in court.
FOX 4 has been tracking complaints about Antoine since 2010. Until now, the charges against him have mostly involved stealing and scamming people with his photography business. These latest federal charges — including extortion, wire fraud and cyber stalking — are the most serious he’s ever faced.
If convicted, he could be behind bars for 20 years. That’s something Lauren would like to see.
“I hope if has done this to any more women they would come forward,” said Lauren, who is now married and has a child. “He needs to be put away. He doesn’t need to be out there.”