Woman Pleads Guilty To Sex Slave Racket

(AP) St. Paul A woman charged with holding two teenage girls captive and forcing them to work as prostitutes faces 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to three felony counts Tuesday.

Lamiea Shelik Kerschbaum, 35, of St. Paul, entered an Alford plea to charges of promoting prostitution and kidnapping.

Under the Alford plea, she acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her, but did not admit to the details of the crime. She did, however, acknowledge the victims were in her home when the crimes allegedly occurred.

Kerschbaum, her husband and her two teenage sons were accused of kidnapping, drugging and assaulting the girls, and forcing them into prostitution.

Prosecutors said police learned of the family last February, when a 15-year-old girl told police she had been held captive for several weeks, raped and assaulted. She later escaped and told police she’d been lured to Kerschbaum’s house under the guise of a baby-sitting job. Police later freed a second girl who alleged she was also held against her will and assaulted in the house.

Kerschbaum’s husband, Benjamin Kerschbaum, 30, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in July and agreed to testify against his wife and his two teenage stepsons. His sentencing date is pending, but he faces seven years and four months in prison under his plea agreement, plus another three years and five months if he violates the terms of his probation. Her two sons also pleaded guilty. Another co-defendant, Alphonso Jermaine Mitchell, 33, still faces charges.

Lamiea Kerschbaum is due to be sentenced March 16 by Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas. Prosecutors said she faces three consecutive sentences that add up to 15 years, consistent with the state’s sentencing guidelines.

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