SALT LAKE CITY — Federal charges have been filed against a man and woman accused of forcing four women to engage in prostitution.
The charges against Ontario Lowery and Alyssa Turtenwald, filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday, include instances in both 2011 and 2013 in which Lowery allegedly acted as a "pimp" for two separate pairs of women, forcing them to engage in sex acts for money and give him their earnings.
Lowery would use threats and violence to coerce the women into staying, while Turtenwald helped Lowery transport the women over various state lines, would list advertisements for the sex acts online and make appointments for the women, according to charging documents.
The first woman said she met Lowery in Illinois and that he eventually began arranging for her and another woman to engage in sex acts for money in Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, California and Nebraska.
"All the money they were making was going to Lowery," the charges state.
One of the women said she tried to leave three times and was "choked and pushed" in two of the instances. The third time, both women tried to leave and Lowery allegedly hit one of them, leaving her with a black eye.
After this, Lowery allegedly took the woman's identification, money and the car keys and slept with them in a pillow. The charges state that he also made the woman sleep next to him "so she could not leave."
In July 2011, both women were arrested in Salt Lake City for investigation of prostitution and told police they had been brought to Utah by Lowery and Turtenwald to engage in prostitution. Lowery could not be found and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Lowery was arrested Oct. 17 after a woman called from a motel in Salt Lake City and said she had been kidnapped. The woman said she met Lowery in Iowa and that the man offered to fly her to California for a "getaway" after she broke up with her boyfriend, the charges state.
Shortly after the woman arrived, Lowery hit her and took her money, telling her "she was not going home until she made him some money." The woman said she was never left alone but was allowed to walk Lowery's dog in Salt Lake City.Comment on this story
She texted her sister and asked her to call police, the charges state. When police arrived, Lowery and Turtenwald were arrested.
Both Lowery and Turtenwald face charges of trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, inducing travel to engage in prostitution and transporting individuals to engage in prostitution.