Opening arguments heard in Suffolk sex-trafficking trial

Opening arguments were presented today in the trial of three people accused of running a Suffolk County sex-slave ring.Convicted sex offender Antonio Rivera, his sister,

CENTRAL ISLIP - Opening arguments were presented today in the trial of three people accused of running a Suffolk County sex-slave ring.

Convicted sex offender Antonio Rivera, his sister, Jasmine Rivera, and John Whaley were arrested in 2009. Police say the trio hired Central American women as waitresses at their bars in Lake Ronkonkoma and Farmingville.

Prosecutors say when the women came to work, they were forced to have sex with patrons. Women who refused claim they were beaten and raped.

Antonio Rivera, Whaley and Jason Villaman, a former security guard at one of the bars, were charged with sex trafficking, forced labor and alien harboring. Rivera's sister, the owner of the two bars, was also charged, but she made a deal with federal prosecutors in January and is now a cooperating witness.

Today, investigators from the Suffolk police department and the Department of Homeland Security testified about surveillance and raids conducted at the bars, where they say they found signs and flyers promising men 30 waitresses for them to have an unforgettable night with.

The defense attempted to discredit the women, many of whom are illegal immigrants, claiming that they will say what the government wants since they are getting to stay in the country.

Beginning tomorrow, a long list of alleged victims is expected to take the stand.

The three accused men are being held without bail. If convicted, they face life in prison.

Trial set to begin in Suffolk sex-trafficking case

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Top 5 Must See

A Queens man died Friday after a car 1 Driver strikes, kills pedestrian in Carle Place
In 2015, one in four drug overdoses were 2 CDC: 1 in 4 fatal drug overdoses linked to heroin in 2015
Police say they have arrested Jonnathan Santos, 20, 3 Police: Man arrested following fatal crash in LIE in Syosset
Reporters line up in hopes of attending a 4 White House bars major news outlets from informal briefing
According to police, the car crashed into a 5 Police respond to car into building in North Bellmore

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Features

Each week, News 12's Doug Geed explores the Check out fun things to do on the East End!

Explore the Twin Forks with News 12's Doug Geed.

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Dog Day Fridays Series

Each week a different shelter visits News 12 Long Island with pets up for adoption.

News 12 digs deep to find Long Island's Discover Long Island's Hidden Past

News 12's Danielle Campbell digs into Long Island's roots.

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long On The Spot

News 12's Lily Stolzberg sees how much Long Islanders know about everything and anything.

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE