A Chicago woman who initially flew to Hong Kong to escape prosecution has been found guilty of forcing women to work as prostitutes at three “spas” she ran in northwest Indiana.
After a three-week jury trial in U.S. District Court in Hammond, Rita Law, 58, was found guilty by a federal jury of sex trafficking, involuntary servitude, transporting a woman across state lines to engage in prostitution, and using an interstate facility to promote prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for Northern Indiana.
Prosecutors showed that Law caused two women, referred to at trial as HV and XC, to believe that if they did not work as prostitutes, “they would suffer serious harm and physical restraint,” a statement from federal prosecutors said.
She forced them “to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money with predominantly male clientele,” at her Duneland Spas in Lake Station and Gary, Indiana; and Fun Fun Feet in Hobart, Indiana, prosecutors said.
Law was also convicted of transporting victim XC across state lines so she could engage in prostitution; and using a telephone to “promote, manage, establish, carry on and facilitate prostitution,” according to prosecutors.
On the day she was charged, Law flew to Hong Kong, where she was immediately apprehended and extradited to the United States.
The jury also convicted co-defendant Crystal Wireman of Lake Station of using a phone to promote, manage and facilitate prostitution. Wireman worked as a masseuse at the spas in Hobart and Gary, and assisted Law in managing the prostitution business, prosecutors said.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Gary, Hammond, Hobart, Lake Station and Oak Forest police departments, and Lake County sheriff’s office.