The U.S. federal court system has managed yet another massive failure, handing out a 20-year prison sentence to a Missouri man who tortured a young woman and kept her as a sex slave for years. The torture included electrical shock and mutilation, as CNN reports. The perpetrator, Edward Bagley Sr., brutalized the victim, who was a runaway minor and former foster child, from December 2002 to February 2009. Bagley had promised her a life as a model and dancer, but instead, forced the young woman to engage in sexual and other vile acts which he advertised on a webcast.
If you haven't yet experienced feelings of nausea and disgust, there is more to this horror. Bagley performed abortions on the victim using vacuums and clothes hangers after he forced her to sign a contract to sexual slavery, claiming it legally binding. The reason for his 20-year federal prison sentence? It was a plea bargain sparing the victim from "having to relive her ordeal in public." If this is true, then the law is permitting a plea bargain because the victim is unwilling to express every detail of her torture, despite evidence that the perpetrator performed sadomasochistic acts on a minor. This ruling massively ignores diabolical nature of the case.
Plea bargaining is often criticized for manipulation and coercion of crime victims. "Scholars complain of prosecutorial coercion, and crime victims decry the lighter sentences that plea bargaining produces." Plea bargains continue to be valued in the U.S. judicial system because there is simply not enough "funding for more courts, judges, prosecutors, and court employees" to remove them.
In this case, it's more likely the victim was persuaded to agree to the plea bargain.
"Even though Ed pleaded guilty, he still hasn't told the truth," the woman said in court, reading from a statement.
The victim, now 27, was discovered in 2009 when she was taken to the hospital after what prosecutors said was a torture session. Bagley's customers, Bradley Cook and Dennis Henry, received a 20-year sentence for sex trafficking. Bagley's wife and two other defendants will get their sentence on Thursday.
A 20-year sentence is not enough for what Bagley and his contemptible team did to this young woman: deeply scarring her for a lifetime. But in reality, there isn't a prison sentence that would do justice for such despicable crimes.