Human trafficking case moves forward
By NIKKI YOUNK
IRON MOUNTAIN – Court proceedings are moving forward in the case of a Kingsford man accused of human trafficking and transporting females to other men’s residences for the purposes of prostitution.
Johnathan Vyvyan, 23, was in Dickinson County District Court Tuesday for a preliminary examination.
In a preliminary examination, a judge determines whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a felony as charged. Probable cause does not indicate guilt.
Judge Christopher Ninomiya found that there was probable cause to believe that Vyvyan committed the felony crimes of human trafficking-obtain the labor of a minor by force, fraud, or coercion; human trafficking-recruiting a minor for child sexually abusive activity; prostitution-transporting a female; and failure to comply with the sex offender registration act.
Vyvyan was then bound over to the circuit court level, where he will be arraigned on those charges in front of Judge Mary B. Barglind on June 16.
If convicted on all of the charges consecutively, Vyvyan could spend up to 58 years in prison.
During Tuesday’s preliminary examination, details about the case were revealed.
Witnesses testified that Vyvyan placed an advertisement on the website Craigslist to find men who were interested in receiving hour-long massages from women. One of the men who responded to the advertisement testified that Vyvyan told him that extra services, including sexual contact, might be included with the massages.
On two separate occasions in August 2013, Vyvyan allegedly brought females to that man’s house. One was a 16-year-old girl and one was a 24-year-old woman.
The girl said that she knew Vyvyan through a mutual acquaintance, and that the two were “friends” on the social media website Facebook. However, she pointed out that she only knew Vyvyan by the name “J.T. Kosiba.”
According to testimony, Vyvyan sent the girl a private Facebook message asking her if she wanted to earn $50 by cleaning his client’s house. She accepted, and Vyvyan drove her to the man’s house on West D Street in Iron Mountain.
The girl testified that, while en route, Vyvyan informed her that she would not be cleaning the man’s house. Instead, she would be giving him a massage. Vyvyan told her that the man would pay more for sexual contact, she claimed.
Although the girl told Vyvyan that she would not provide any sexual services, she did go into the man’s house and proceeded to give him a back massage. When the man took off his underwear, she left the residence.
The girl testified that Vyvyan contacted her the next day and offered to give her a share of the money from the massage. She said that she refused the money and informed her parents, who contacted police.
According to the man’s testimony, Vyvyan had told him that the girl was 19 years old.
Another witness called was the 24-year-old woman. She said that she knew Vyvyan from high school and that the two were friends.
The woman testified that Vyvyan had asked her to massage several of his clients at his residence in Kingsford in exchange for money. She agreed, but did note in her testimony that she and Vyvyan had never discussed including sexual contact in the massages.
On the third occasion, she said that Vyvyan asked her if she would go to a client’s house to administer a massage. This client was the same man involved in the incident with the 16-year-old girl.
Vyvyan drove the woman to the man’s residence on West D Street. She testified that she massaged the man’s back, stomach, and legs.
When the man took off his underwear and asked for sexual contact, she started to have sexual contact with him. However, she testified that she soon stopped and instead allowed him to massage her back.
She added that she then received a text from Vyvyan informing her that the hour was up. The man paid her $40 via check.
She testified that she did not give Vyvyan a cut of the money because she was angry at him for telling the man that she would have sexual contact with him.
Other witnesses with the Michigan State Police and the Iron Mountain Police Department testified that Vyvyan had failed to comply with the sex offender registration act by being a convicted sex offender and not registering his e-mail addresses or Facebook accounts with authorities.
Dickinson County Prosecutor Lisa Richards felt that the testimony entered was sufficient for probable cause.
Defense attorney Kalen Lipe questioned whether Vyvyan was even involved in the incident with the 24-year-old woman, since money exchanged hands directly from the client to the woman.
Lipe also pointed out that the 16-year-old girl continued to participate in the incident even after she learned that she was expected to engage in sexual contact. Because she continued to participate, she was not forced or coerced, Lipe argued.
Judge Ninomiya agreed with Richards that there was sufficient evidence for probable cause.
Vyvyan will remain in custody at the Dickinson County Jail.
Richards had previously said that neither the 16-year-old girl nor the 24-year-old woman was charged with any criminal offense stemming from these incidents. It was not immediately clear if the man involved has been charged with any crime.
Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.