As last week ended, 30-year-old Stephen Ardredy (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) from Missouri was the one facing confinement and the Medfield 17-year-old young woman (hereinafter, the “Girl”) was free, safe and sound.
Such was the aftermath after the 2 1/2 –day disappearance of the Girl, including what must have seemed like endless torture for her family and other loved ones.
The Girl had disappeared after leaving the Medfield Public Library last Monday afternoon and wasn’t found until Thursday morning when she and the Defendant were spotted in Coventry, Rhode Island. According to a law enforcement official, speaking only on condition of anonymity (“because of the sensitivity of the investigation”), the Defendant was seen on a videotape leaving the library with the Girl.
On the video, the gent whom law enforcement believe is the Defendant is seen sporting a stylish black T-shirt that read “Sons of Anarchy” and “Fear the Reaper.”
“The case against the defendant is very strong,” Assistant US Attorney Adi Goldstein announced in court. Even if it were not the strongest of cases, the Defendant already had strikes against him. According to the government, he had a criminal record that included prior sex offenses.
Apparently, defense counsel did not disagree; the defense did not seek either bail or an additional hearing to challenge continued incarceration.
The Court agreed to seal the law enforcement affidavit supporting the charges, meaning no further details were available publicly about the Defendant’s alleged motive and plans, where the two went, and what they did.
The Defendant and the Girl were apparently spotted at 6:48 a.m. Thursday by a passerby in Coventry who recognized them from news reports of the massive search, police said. The passerby contacted police, who responded to the scene and took them, without incident, to the Coventry station for questioning.
“This individual’s quick response by notifying law enforcement was paramount to putting an end to the anguish the victim’s family was experiencing not knowing their daughter’s whereabouts. By smartly alerting law enforcement, he furthered the investigation which led to the arrest and detention of the defendant,” Rhode Island US Attorney Peter F. Neronha said in a statement.
The Girl’s mother explains that her daughter is “not emotionally a 17-year-old” and finds it easier to chat with people on the Internet than making friends. Her father states that his daughter “seems to be in very good condition, very good spirits. She’s doing well.”
Coventry police were being assisted by the US Department of Homeland Security, the Massachusetts State Police, and the West Greenwich, R.I., where the Defendant and Girl are believed to have stayed, police.
Attorney Sam’s Take on Sex Crimes Allegations Across State Lines
As you probably already know, human trafficking is one of those “hot button” crimes that have gotten a great deal of attention of late. We have discussed this crime, as well as the unfortunate desire of so many to claim it is synonymous with prostitution, many times.
In this case, of course, we do not know the details of the allegations against the Defendant. All we know is that, allegedly, he was found in a different state from Massachusetts with the Girl who was, at least physically, unharmed. It sounds like she may have accompanied him willingly, although she is clearly young (although above the age of consent).
Disappearing with someone in their teens, particularly when that person has told nobody that she is going, immediately puts you in danger. We are getting closer and closer to prosecuting cases of persuasion. In other words, even if you have not forced someone and that person is not a juvenile and you both agree to “get away from it all” and go to another state, you have tripped upon federal scrutiny, particularly if her parents believe she was taken against her will…or simply do not know.
Speaking of “will”, notice that, while the age of consent (to have sexual relations) is lower, the age limit for child pornography is 18. Of course, there is no “cut off point” for human trafficking nor prostitution-related crimes.
You further may want to note that recent changes in Massachusetts laws have basically given many sex workers virtual immunity if they will but claim they are being forced and/or turn in their managers.
Please understand that I am not suggesting that these facts are suggestive of the Defendant’s case. I do not know any more of those specifics than you do…unless you are, perhaps, law enforcement. However, as is often the case, lessons can be learned from criminal cases as to what is likely to happen under certain circumstances.
Of course, we have not even mentioned what happens when allegations such as these are actually based solely on word-of-mouth. That is the stuff that criminal investigations are usually made of.
And, as you know, merely the whiff of one of those associated with your name should light a spark under you, telling you to get experienced criminal defense counsel fast.
For the original article upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/09/13/man-linked-missing-medfield-teen-due-federal-court-today/WsNwii6agH0vgpAUKoT2QJ/story.html