The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

94° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sex worker testifies she was threatened

     

    A young undocumented emigrant from Honduras who worked as a “”hostess”” in a Suffolk bar testified in federal court Thursday that her boss threatened to turn her in to authorities unless she continued to have sex with patrons.

    But she conceded under cross-examination by defense attorneys for the alleged sex slavery ringleaders that she was aware of the sexual activity in the Lake Ronkonkoma bar even before she went to work in one of them.

    The woman, in her early 20s and identified only as “”Nelci,”” conceded she had told investigators that she knew what kind of place the bars were because her mother had worked in a similar one in Honduras.

    “”Nelci”” also conceded she had originally told federal agents when she was questioned she had worked at Sonidos because “”it was easy money.”” She said federal agents told her if she said she was a victim of a sex scheme she would be eligible to stay in the United States despite being undocumented.

    Rivera and two other men who allegedly worked for him, John Whaley and Jason Villaman, are accused of running the ring out of two now defunct bars, Sonidos in Lake Ronkonkoma and La Hija Del Mariachi in Farmingville.

    Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Richmond, “”Nelci”” said she and other women had to allow patrons to molest them, have sex with them, and go home with them on weekends for sex. She said she continued working there even after becoming pregnant and telling Rivera she was concerned about the baby’s health.

    Hostesses were supposed to receive a few dollars per hour and be paid half of the $20-a-shot glasses of tequila or vodka that patrons bought for them. But “”Nelci”” said she often argued with her boss about getting paid and was not compensated for going home with patrons for sex.

    She said, “”I didn’t like it, but 1/8alleged ringleader Antonio Rivera3/8 told me I had to do it . . . It was part of my job.””

    She and about 20 other women who worked in the bar were ordered to drink tequila before working, said “”Nelci,”” who appeared stoic at first but then broke down. She testified Rivera told the hostesses to down the drinks because, he told them, they “” ‘needed to drink to lose your shame.’ “”

    “”Nelci”” said she continued working for Rivera out of fear he might turn her into police or immigration agents.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search