Alleged sex slave victim cross-examined at human trafficking trial
The complainant in a human trafficking trial who was allegedly confined to the small, windowless room of a downtown apartment for five days and forced to have sex with multiple strangers, was questioned about discrepancies in her evidence on Thursday, as she was cross-examined at the trial for Jessica Vinje.
The accused in the case, 30-year-old Vinje, faces six charges including; human trafficking, sexual assault, forcible confinement, assault and unlawful use of an imitation firearm.
The complainant, who can only be referred to as KM because her identity is protected under a publication ban, was three months pregnant at the time of the alleged offences.
Under cross-examination defence lawyer Rebecca Snukal pointed to numerous discrepancies in KM’s testimony from Wednesday, comparing it to what she told police in an interview on Dec. 13, 2017.
“In this trial you said Jessica had the gun and that’s not what you told police,” said Snukal.
KM told court that, on Dec 8, 2017, she worked as an escort and arrived at an apartment building on 5 Avenue S.W. to meet a potential client. She said she was led upstairs by a male, where she said a gun was pointed at her and she was punched in the face. She said the gun switched between the male's and Vinje’s hands.
On Thursday, Snukal reviewed the police transcript where KM told the detective she only saw the male in the apartment holding the gun, not Vinje.
KM testified she was forced to have sex with multiple men, some who were friends of Vinje’s, the others were clients booked over the internet.
KM told court, ten clients were arranged online and Snukal pointed to the police interview transcript where that number was five men.
KM previously testified that she never saw any money exchanged in the apartment and was never personally given any money for the sex acts.
But in the police interview, Snukal noted KM told the officer, she was handed cash from the clients who booked online.
Snukal also asked KM why she testified that she was stripped of all her personal belongings as she entered the apartment but didn't mention that to police.
“This was a very traumatic event,” said KM, when asked why the testimony now, may be different than the interview. “There may be some things I didn’t mention, it was more important for me to mention the bigger things that affected me more.”
KM also said she was confined to a room the entire time, which she described as a walk-in-closet, except for visits to the bathroom, one shower and once, when she was driven to an unknown location.
But Snukal suggested KM told police she was allowed to come into the living room at times.
"If I had been allowed out, I was still captive, being still confined to an apartment against my will was in my memory, still being confined," said KM.
KM told Snukal that she was a drug addict and homeless in December 2017. She said she would use the money she made working as an escort to stay in hotels.
KM escaped the apartment on December 13 when her captors were asleep and ran barefoot across the street to a liquor store where the clerk called 911.
Snukal asked KM a number of pointed questions, including the suggestion the entire stay at the apartment was voluntary, to which KM disagreed.
Snukal suggested KM asked Vinje if she could use her place for some escort calls, because she needed to pay some people back. KM denied that.
Vinje’s trial is being heard by a judge alone and is scheduled until the end of next week.
Two teens have previously pleaded guilty for their roles. A third suspect, a woman, who was underage at the time is wanted on an outstanding warrant.