Courts & Crime

Sex trafficking victim recalls tormented childhood

Her childhood wasn't so much stolen as it was sold.

And in a courtroom Wednesday, a young woman who, beginning at age 12, was trained and used as a sexual dominatrix gave an impassioned accounting of her torment.

"I was reduced to an object and a paycheck by my own mother," she said.

Her mother, a former Blue Springs resident, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to commercial sex trafficking of a minor. Her name is not being printed to protect her daughter's identity.

The woman was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to help pay for the counseling her now-adult daughter will need. The money will be garnisheed from any wages she earns in prison and after her release.

Prosecutors said the 46-year-old defendant is the first person in the country to be prosecuted under the trafficking law in a case involving his or her own child.

A psychologist called by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Cordes said he has treated sexual abuse victims for 30 years and suggested that the victim would need decades of therapy to overcome the effects of "five years of sexual perversion and degradation."

"This is one of the two or three most egregious cases I've been involved with," Gerald Gentry said.

The abuse started in 2000, when the girl was 12. She and her mother were living with a man named Todd Barkau, who pleaded guilty last November to the same commercial sex trafficking charge. He has not been sentenced.

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