By Courtney Mabeus
This story is part of an investigative series on human trafficking in Maryland.
TOWSON—Bennie Veasey strode into 19-year-old G's life in March 2013, as she waited at a bus stop on her way home from work in Columbus, Ohio.
He left a car at a gas station across the street and walked over to flirt with her. He introduced himself as "Cartier," like the high-end French jeweler. She gave him her number.
"I thought he was cute," she testified in his 2013 sex trafficking trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
She said he texted her later, asking about her life, including if she had any children. His interest in her came at a time that she was struggling to pay for her apartment and support a 2-year-old son. Commissions had dried up in the post-Christmas slump at the family photo studio where she'd worked for three years.
He made her an enticing offer, she told the court: Would she come work for him as an escort?
G explained what happened next in her testimony. Capital News Service is not using her name, because it does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Prosecutor Amanda Rodriguez: Okay. So what did you respond to the defendant when he asked you if you would escort for him?
G: Um, I asked him like exactly, um, is that like, you know, dressing up and going places with you? And, he didn't respond.
Rodriguez: Had you ever been an escort before?
Rodriguez: Um, so he didn't respond. What did you do?
G: Um, I had called a couple friends because I thought like it meant something else. I called a couple friends and asked them exactly what it was.
Rodriguez: And don't tell me what they said, but based on what they said, um, what did you think at that point that it was?
G: Um, thought he was you get cute and you go see celebrities and hook up with celebrities.
Rodriguez: So what did you tell the defendant then once you got that information?
G: I told him yeah.
Three days later, Veasey picked up G for her first day of work and drove two hours to a Marriott hotel in Cleveland, she testified. He brought her to a guest room with another woman and a man for training.
Rodriguez: Um, so what happened next?
G: Um, he asked me—well, he told me to, um, to watch. It was another female with us. He told me to watch her and see how he had been and mimic what she does.
Rodriguez: Okay. And what was she doing? What were you supposed to mimic?
G: Um, the phone calls that she was saying, um, and how to talk and be preppy and how to talk, like, on the phone to clients.
Rodriguez: When you say preppy or peppy?
Rodriguez: Preppy. What does that mean?
G: Like, um, he said, more like white, act more white or preppy, jolly, happy.
As instructed, G watched the woman answer calls before starting to do so herself, rattling off suggested "donations" in return for various services, she testified.
At some point that day, it began to dawn on G that escorting may not have been the star-studded job she envisioned. She testified that she began to suspect it meant "you actually have, you know, intercourse with other clients."
The mystery vanished, she said, after a strange man entered the room and the others left them alone.
Rodriguez: Um, what happened when you were alone in the room? What happened next?
G: Um, I was kind of a little bit talkative when the, um, client came in there. I was just like talkative, but.
Rodriguez: So there came a time that somebody came in?
Rodriguez: Did you know who that person was?
Rodriguez: Um, so what happened when he was there?
G: OK. Um, I was kind of talking and a little bit and kind of shutting up and we just did the intercourse.
THE COURT: You have to speak up.
G: And we did the intercourse.
Rodriguez: Um, had anyone told you prior to—um, was it a gentleman that came in or a lady?
G: Um, It was a male.
Rodriguez: It was a male. Um, did anyone tell you what to expect or what was going to happen when he came in?
Asked why she continued to work as a prostitute after that, she said that she needed money for rent. "He introduced me to this life and I felt like that was the best way to take care of my son at that time," G testified. She'd also become intimate with him. "He wanted me to call him Daddy....I kind of felt like he cared about me."
In mid-April, they traveled by car to Baltimore with another prostitute, and the trio worked out of the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson, about 9 miles north of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, she told the court.
Veasey advertised the women on the local Baltimore section of the national website Backpage—G's ad said she was "a young hot ebony freak" in town for only a few days, court records say.
It attracted the attention of now retired Baltimore County Police Det. Steven Hannon. He testified that he questioned whether she was younger than the 19 years the ad claimed she was. The out-of-state area code and amount of detail placed with the ad tipped him off that something wasn't right.
"Someone had posted that ad for her," Hannon testified.
Hannon also said he'd noticed another ad, for a woman called "Chyna," posted within a few minutes of G's.
Hannon told the court that he made an undercover call to the number in G's ad and arranged to meet her in a room at the Sheraton. After handing over $220 in exchange for the woman's agreement to perform oral sex, Hannon testified, he sent a signal that told other officers to come help make a bust:
Veasey's Defense Attorney Jerome Joyce: Uh, drawing your attention to the fact that you realize you're about to be arrested, um, we understand the testimony we've heard is that a man came to the room to make a date with you?
Joyce: And came into the room and after a while, you discovered other people were coming into the room, is that right?
Joyce: How did that happen? Did you open the door and let those people in?
Joyce: Describe what happened.
G: Um, I was—I was, I thought I was having, um, a client, and I had told Bennie that a client was coming; and, um, um, I let the client come—like come in. I opened the door and, um, came in in a wheelchair and when he came in in a wheelchair, he was, um,—he asked me --
Joyce: Wait a minute. I'm sorry for interrupting you. When the day you were arrested, the client who wound up being a police officer was in a wheelchair?
Joyce: Okay. Thank you. That's interesting. Please go ahead.
G: And then, um, he came in as a wheelchair and he said, um, that he needs to take meds like to get --
Joyce: Yeah, I understand. I think we all understand what he's talking about.
G: And, um, he said he needed to take meds. He said he'd give it about 20 minutes, but so I said did you want a massage while the 20 minutes? And, then it went from, um, like time went on, and he acts like told me to start making noises. And, um, once then he illustrated the money and the price and then the price after they—the price and I said you gave me a little bit too much, and, um, he said OK, well, just keep as it a tip. The next thing you know, they're all—the police officers or the detective or the people that came in.
Joyce: Did they come in suddenly or easily?
G: They came in suddenly.
Joyce: Did they have guns?
G: Um, um, I don't recall. I was in shock when it was my first time.
Joyce: First time you were actually in shock?
Joyce: And, um, did they put you in handcuffs?
Officers found Veasey in the room across the hall, court records say. They arrested him and charged him with human trafficking, prostitution and other violations, records show.
Veasey testified during the trial that he didn't entice the women. He said it was they who lured him to the Baltimore area with the promise of sex when they got here.
A prosecutor used text messages, hotel receipts and Backpage records to help win Veasey's conviction on trafficking charges. Veasey is serving 20 years in prison. He has appealed his conviction.
At the time of the trial, G testified that she had given up prostitution. She said she was attending school to become a flight attendant while living with her son at her mother's home.
In a letter to a CNS reporter, Veasey called himself a "business man" and "ex pimp" who "never put my hands on a woman." He said he is writing a book.
"I'm a whole new guy," Veasey wrote.