Man on trial for pimping women in MT claims he ran legal escort - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Man on trial for pimping women in MT claims he ran legal escort service

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BILLINGS - The man who is accused of trafficking six victims -- including three children -- for sex in Montana -- claims his business "was perfectly legal."

Terrance Edwards, who prosecutors describe as a violent pimp, faces 10 charges related to prostitution.

“'Call me daddy, maintain contact with me, don’t look another man in the eyes unless he’s a paying customer,'” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson during her opening statements. “Those were just three of the rules Terrance Edwards had for the victims.”

His defense attorneys counter by saying he operated a perfectly legal escort service.

“He set women up with lonely men,” said defense attorney, Palmer Hoovestal. “One woman will tell you she got paid just to drink wine with one man.”

Hoovestal said the women worked for Edwards’ escort service of their own free will and could leave whenever they wanted. “There was no attempt to leave,” said Hoovestal.

Edwards was arrested in Billings after a 22-year-old Polson woman said Edwards forced her into the commercial sex business. Federal investigators later learned Edwards was trafficking at least three women, threatening them and taking all the money they made from commercial sex.

Edwards later met a 15-year-old North Dakota girl online and drove hundreds of miles to pick up her, and two teenage friends. Prosecutors say Edwards brought the girls back to Billings to work as prostitutes.

Prosecutors say the sex trafficking operation spans at least three states.

Francine “Joanna” Granados, Edwards’ co-defendant, is being tried at the same time as Edwards for alleged tampering with victims. 

Granados allegedly contacted the victims upon Edwards’ request in an attempt to prevent them from testifying, according to court documents. Attorneys for Granados said she never attempted to influence the victims and only acted on Edwards’ behalf.

Prosecutors expect to call 28 witnesses throughout the eight-day-long trial with Hoovestal saying that Edwards will testify.

- information from Aja Goare included in this report.

REPORT: FBI takes over case of captive Polson woman rescued in Billings

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