KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man accused of torturing a young woman he kept as a sex slave pleaded guilty Tuesday to having sex with her when she was underage, but more serious charges including sex trafficking were dropped.
Edward Bagley, 45, had been facing 11 federal charges accusing him of enticing an underage girl to be his sex slave, torturing and mutilating her, and allowing others to view the torture sessions either in person or over the Internet. Instead, Bagley, known as "Master Ed," pleaded guilty to one count of using an interstate facility to entice a minor into illegal sexual conduct and agreed to a 20-year prison sentence that still must be approved by a federal judge.
Bagley, wearing an orange jail outfit and shackled at the hands, waist and ankles, twice looked at his attorney and shook his head Tuesday while an assistant U.S. attorney recited the factual basis for his plea, including that he had sex with the victim before she turned 17.
Still, Bagley said "yes, your honor" when U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple asked him if he had committed the acts described by prosecutors in the plea deal.
Bagley is the main defendant in the case and the last to plead guilty to charges. His wife, Marilyn, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge last year and four other Missouri men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. They all await sentencing.
"Today's guilty plea brings closure to a shocking and horrific case," U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said in a news release. "Six defendants now have been brought to justice for their roles in the brutal sexual torture and enslavement of a young woman who was just a teenager when the victimization began."
The victim was 16 in 2003 when she moved into the Bagleys' trailer on the outskirts of Lebanon, a rural community 140 miles southeast of Kansas City, prosecutors said. She lived with the couple until early 2009, when she was taken to a hospital in cardiac arrest at age 23 after what prosecutors said was a torture session.
Bagley's attorney, Susan Dill, had contended that the woman was 18 when she voluntarily started engaging in extreme sexual acts with Bagley as part of the bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism lifestyle, and that Bagley did not have sex with her while she was a minor.
Dill declined to comment after the plea hearing.
According to his plea agreement, Bagley met the young woman in 2002 when she was 16 and dating his teenage son and knew she had suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the past. Bagley provided her with her own room, clothes and promised her a great life, the agreement says, and taught her about BDSM activities using images and videos from the Internet.
As part of the plea deal, Bagley also admitted to engaging in bondage acts with the woman that included the use of needles and skewers, whipping and electrocution.
"Both the interest of the victim and the cause of justice have been served today," Dickinson said. "The victim is spared having to endure a difficult trial and she can continue her healing process."
Whipple said he will wait for the results of a presentence report, which is expected to take two months to complete, before he decides whether to accept the 20-year sentence. The judge said if he rejects the plea agreement, he will throw out Bagley's guilty plea and let the sides either renegotiate or take the case to trial.
Bagley could have faced life behind bars if found guilty of the 11 counts against him, but with the plea deal he can get out of prison before he turns 65.
The four men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the case admitted engaging in or watching the sexual torture of the woman at Bagley's home.
Bradley Cook of St. Louis entered a plea agreement that includes a 20-year sentence. Michael Stokes of Lebanon, Mo., and James Noel of Springfield each face five-year sentences.
Dennis Henry of Wheatland, who in addition to conspiracy pleaded guilty to transporting the victim across state lines for sexual activity, could get up to 15 years in prison.
Marilyn Bagley's plea deal calls for her to be sentenced to probation for conspiracy.