A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, heard testimony last week regarding allegations that several former Fairfax County police officers were involved in covering up a human trafficking ring. One witness against the ex-officers is an illegal immigrant who testified they were active clients of the illegal prostitution operation they allowed to do business.
A woman, identified as “Jane Doe” testified in the civil trial against former Fairfax Police Chief Edwin Roessler and former officers James Baumstark, Michael Barbazette, and Jason Mardocco.
Baumstark is now the deputy chief of the Asheville, North Carolina, Police Department.
Asheville Police Deputy Chief Jim Baumstark is part of a lawsuit filed by a victim of sex trafficking who alleges he was part of a cover-up involving the Fairfax County Police Department. https://t.co/SaUZMhsFvP
— WLOS (@WLOS_13) January 12, 2023
None of the four former Fairfax officers have been charged with any crimes related to the allegations. One of the defense lawyers in the civil case described the allegations as “preposterous.”
Jane Doe told the jury that she was lured by trafficker Hazel Sanchez to leave her home in Costa Rica to come to Virginia. She said she was offered work as a nanny and a high-priced escort. She was told she would be expected to spend time with wealthy clients but not to necessarily engage in prostitution.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to prostitution crimes in 2019. She admitted that women she engaged were in fact forced into as many as 17 acts of prostitution per day, often under dangerous and dehumanizing conditions. She said she confiscated the passports of at least five women and threatened to turn them into immigration officials if they did not comply with her demands.
After being convicted of “unlawful prostitution activity” following her plea, Sanchez was sentenced to just 2.5 years of jail time.
Jane Doe’s lawsuit against the ex-officers claims they protected Sanchez and the prostitution ring until it was finally broken up by FBI agents in 2019. The case claims the defendants violated federal law when they obstructed official investigations into Sanchez’s illegal activities.
The lawsuit alleges that all four defendants personally hired prostitutes through Sanchez while they were still on the Fairfax police force.
Doe broke down emotionally while telling the jury that she was forced into degrading acts by Sanchez under the threat of being turned into immigration officials. She also said the four officers knew of her plight but did nothing to help her.
An attorney for Baumstark and Roessler argued to the court that the two former officers were named in Doe’s lawsuit only because of publicity that was attached to them when they left the Fairfax police force. Both resigned when their phone numbers were discovered in Sanchez’s phone, indicating they were among her clients. The attorney said there was not “a shred of physical evidence” linking them to Doe’s case.
That attorney also argued that Jane Doe was not a trafficking victim but worked in Virginia as a “voluntary prostitute” who is now lying in an attempt to obtain monetary damages.