A Florida man was sentenced to spend decades in prison this week for overseeing a long-running sex trafficking ring that falsely promised early retirement to dozens of young women from multiple states. The genesis of the organization used to traffic those victims is shocking.
William D. Foster, 50, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts in March of this year for his role in running a fake charity that was publicly geared toward helping women remove themselves from working in the sex industry.
According to The Palm Beach Post, the defendant ran a “sophisticated website” known as Foster’s Care, which contained “facts and figures” about sex work while claiming to provide services so that human trafficking victims in particular could “escape their tormentors.” The site offered women assistance via housing, therapy, medical treatment, job and training, as well as law enforcement help.
“Are you a victim of the sex trade?” the website asked. “Contact us now.”
In private and reality, however, the charity was a sham. Foster and others actually conspired to keep women in the sex business.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Foster “used psychological coercion and violence to keep victims in line. And, despite promising to invest each woman’s earnings so they “could retire in their 20s,” he kept the money for himself.
Over the course of the 20-plus-year-long scheme, Foster lived with from five to 15 of his victims. Though many of the women were based in Miami, he sent them to New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Nevada for the purposes of selling sex and strictly controlled their lives.
A sentencing memorandum details the defendant’s level of control:
The Defendant treated the victims as property, without regard for their safety and well-being. To the Defendant, the victims were simply products for sale to generate income. He required them to look a certain way, skinny and blonde, many of the victims going on dangerous starvation diets to lose weight and getting weight loss surgeries overseas despite not being overweight. Many of the victims continue to have medical complications to this day. The Defendant convinced many of the victims that they were bipolar or depressed, and put them on anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications, so that they would be easier to control and numb to the fact that they were having sex with countless, random men on a daily basis.
“The facts of this case read like a demented movie too twisted to be real, but unfortunately it was the reality for so many women,” the document states. “The effects of having to endure that reality are lifelong and far-reaching.”
In addition to sleeping with strangers, the trafficked women were also forced to have sex with Foster any time he desired and were initially desensitized to their eventual lives by trips to swingers clubs.
But the control exerted over the women did not only concern sex.
“They were earning thousands of dollars engaging in commercial sex but had to ask permission from [Foster] to buy hygiene products or food,” the sentencing memo continues. “One victim reported hiding a hygiene product under her mattress so that the other girls wouldn’t take it since they weren’t allowed to spend money. Another victim reported eating out of a dumpster because she was too scared to ask [Foster] to buy food.”
Many of the victims recruited by Foster into his sex-trafficking ring were minors – and he was aware of their ages at the time as he made sure to recruit from foster homes, group homes, and shelters, prosecutors say. Foster also preyed on other vulnerable women by frequenting “low-end” strip clubs where teenage girls were likely to already be working for “violent pimps” – offering them a way out premised on a life of luxury, according to the original criminal complaint.
According to the Post, the defendant would start out by offering to let his victims drive his Ferrari, Escalade, Mercedes and Corvette. After a while, the forced dieting began. He altered their appearances to enforce conformity to his standard of attractiveness, and sold them nightly to men who paid for sex. Meanwhile, he lied about investing their earnings into various non-existent ventures like the fake apparel line “Bad Girlz Fashion.”
Any women who were eventually able to leave the sex-trafficking enterprise left penniless.
In late 2019, three victims came forward. Foster was criminally charged in early November of that year. He was then formally indicted along with two co-conspirators in December 2019. Those two co-conspirators – Ashleigh Holloway, 37, and Hanah Chan, 32 – pled guilty in the Southern District of Florida to bank fraud charges in connection with the operation. The two female defendants are currently slated to be sentenced on Oct. 11, 2022.
In sum, after years of fighting the charges, Foster pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking of a minor; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud, and coercion; five counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; two counts of sex trafficking by fraud and coercion; conspiracy to transport individuals for purposes of prostitution; and two counts of transporting individuals for prostitution and a money laundering conspiracy.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors had requested life in prison for Foster. By imposing a 60-year sentence, U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal likely handed down the functional equivalent.
Read the full memo below:
[image via Palm Beach County Police]
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