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Trial opens for St. Paul family accused in sex-trafficking ring

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The trial for Otis D. Washington, charged along with four family members with trafficking girls and women for sex over the course of two years, opened Wednesday with the defendant representing himself and a witness giving hushed testimony.

The Pioneer Press leads with the testimony of an 18-year-old woman who thought she was in a romantic relationship with Washington, then told of him selling her body for money.

Washington, 29, faces five charges of sex trafficking involving four separate alleged victims in 2012, says the St. Paul paper.

The Star Tribune, meanwhile, starts with the fact that Washington is apparently representing himself. He appeared wearing his jail orange jumpsuit, and "declined to make any opening statement or cross-examine witnesses who testified," the Minnespolis paper reports.

His brother, 27-year-old Antonio Washington-Davis was charged with one count each of first-degree sex trafficking, second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking, according to KSTP-TV.

Two of their uncles were also charged. Robert Washington, 56, was charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking, and 49-year-old Calvin Ray Washington was charged with second degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking.

A fifth suspect, Elizabeth Ann Alexander, 25, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking.

The Strib notes the number of victims and the scope of conspiracy involved. Quoting the criminal complaint, the Strib says the brothers used eight e-mail addresses, 30 phone numbers and more than 100 credit-card accounts in placing “hundreds of ads on adult-oriented websites such as backpage.com."

The trial resumes Monday.

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