A Long Island man who locked women in a “sex dungeon” in his parents' basement is facing nearly a decade in prison after pleading guilty to a slew of human trafficking charges this week.
Raymond Rodio III used websites like Backpage and Craigslist to recruit young women whom he then prostituted out of his parents’ home and motels throughout Suffolk County, prosecutors said.
The 48-year-old pleaded guilty to five counts of sex trafficking, two counts of promoting prostitution, and the sale of a controlled substance on Tuesday, February 4, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
“This is an individual who clearly had no regard for the women he victimized, subjecting them to exploitation, fear and humiliation,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement. “It is our hope that this guilty plea delivers justice for the many survivors of Rodio’s scheme. Let this also serve as a message to other offenders that my Office will continue to aggressively target and prosecute human traffickers.”
Rodio was arrested by Suffolk County Police during a routine traffic stop in 2018. Officers, who suspected the man’s co-passenger could be a sex-trafficking victim, learned she had been forced into prostitution by Rodio since at least spring 2018, officials said.
The traffic stop later led to the bust of Rodio’s sex slavery operation. Prosecutors alleged he turned his parents' windowless Sound Beach basement into a “sex dungeon.” He used the dungeon to imprison and drug sex workers since at least 2014, prosecutors contended.
The Long Island man pushed heroin and crack cocaine on at least 20 women, who he also locked in his parents’ basement for extended periods, prosecutors said. Rodio’s victims were often forced to use a “bucket” as a toilet since there was no bathroom in the cellar and in at least once instance, he threatened physical violence on a sex worker, officials said.
In his online classifieds, authorities said he promised prospective sex workers a “large percentage” of their earnings.
“The volume and amount of victims that came forward in this case [is] remarkable,” Emily Waters, Director of Human Trafficking Programs at the Safe Center LI, told Oxygen.com. “But the way this individual was able to weaponize and use addiction as a coercive tool to then traffic people who are already hurting and already at risk makes it especially horrific.”
Waters, 37, who is a survivor of sex trafficking herself, said that victims are already vulnerable and at-risk individuals who are often coping with addiction, mental health issues, or poverty.
“Addiction coincides with trafficking so easily and it’s used so often as a tool to keep people trapped,” Waters explained. “If you can rent a hotel room by the hour, it’s going on there, massage parlors — and like in this case, out of homes. It happens in Hempstead and Freeport, all the way to the Hamptons.”
Long Island, nestled on the outskirts of New York City, is a hotspot for human and sex trafficking, she alleged.
“Generally the public perception of human trafficking is that it looks like the movie ‘Taken,’" Waters explained. “This happens here, this happens in Long Island, and people that it’s happening to are mainly American citizens.”
The Safe Center LI, which works with hundreds of human trafficking victims annually, provided support and resources to 249 survivors in 2019. However, many of the individual human or sex-trafficking cases they see aren’t reported to police, Waters said.
“It’s everywhere,” Detective Lt. Frank Messana, commander of Suffolk County Police Department's Human Trafficking Investigations Unit, told Oxygen.com. “The problem is so hidden and misunderstood. The only way to fix those misconceptions is public awareness.”
Rodio will be sentenced on March 9 and it is expected he’ll receive a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence. He’ll be required to register as a sex offender upon release.
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