Iowa Couple Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion
Defendants admit to torturing and prostituting a woman
RICHMOND, Va. – Aldair Hodza, 36, and Laura Sorensen, 31, of Clive, Iowa, pleaded guilty today to charges of Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion, and Interstate Transportation of a Person for Prostitution.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson.
Hodza and Sorensen, who were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 3, 2015, face a mandatory-minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison when they are sentenced on August 14, 2015. As set forth in the plea agreement, the United States and the defendants have agreed to recommend a sentence of 35 years imprisonment on Count One and 10 years on Count Two to run concurrently. This recommendation is not binding on the court. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, the defendants admitted that on December 19, 2014, they convinced the victim to join them in their recreational vehicle (“RV”) using a ruse. When the victim arrived, the defendants took her phone, forced her to consume alcohol and marijuana, and sexually assaulted her. The defendants then told the victim that she was not free to leave and forced her to prostitute for the next several days. Sorensen and Hodza worked together to post advertisements on Craigslist soliciting the victim for sexual acts and arrange meetings for the victim to perform sexual acts for money. Sorensen collected all of the money paid for these sexual acts for use by Sorensen and Hodza.
On December 24, 2014, the defendants began their trip to Virginia to visit Hodza’s minor daughter, forcing the victim to come with them. The defendants attempted to prostitute the victim along the trip at various truck stops. Upon arriving in Virginia several days later, they went to campgrounds in Virginia and North Carolina, where they continued to force the victim to engage in prostitution. During this time, the defendants engaged in a pattern of torture and sexual abuse toward the victim, including burning the victim on her back and abdomen with a key and scissors that had been heated on the stove, putting cigarettes out on the victim’s body, whipping the victim with a rope, driving nails into the victim’s feet, and spraying bleach into the victim’s wound.
On January 6, 2015, New Kent County Sheriff’s Deputies and Virginia State Police troopers responded to a call at a gas station in Providence Forge, Virginia after a call by a concerned truck driver who observed suspicious behavior at the RV. Upon arriving, the officers entered the RV and observed the victim displaying signs of fright and malnourishment and removed her from the RV to speak with her alone. The victim then told them that she was being held against her will and abused by the defendants.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather L. Hart, Dominick S. Gerace, and Angela Mastandrea-Miller are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:15-cr-032.