By Philip Newman
Two Queens men, one of whom allegedly waited for his victim at a school bus stop, have been charged with kidnapping, rape and sex trafficking while carrying on a business of forcing three girls, aged 13, 15 and 16, to work as prostitutes, the Queens district attorney said this week.
“The defendants are both accused of enslaving three young girls, raping them and forcing them to work as prostitutes,” DA Richard Brown said. “They allegedly forced the girls to turn all their money over to them,” Brown said.
The defendants were identified as Peter Gerardi, 28, of 20 Whitson St. in Forest Hills, and Christopher Stephensbush, 20, of 116-30 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill.
Back in 2005, Gerardi was charged with gang assault and evidence tampering in a Christmas Eve brawl outside the Midway Theater in Forest Hills that left a 20-year-old youth from Flushing dead. Gerardi pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a prison term.
In his latest encounter with the law, Gerardi faces 64 counts of kidnaping, rape, sex trafficking and endangering the welfare of a child, among other crimes, according to the DA’s office. He was being held without bail and was ordered back to court Dec. 19. Conviction could bring 25 years to life in prison.
Brown said that according to the indictment, the 13-year-old victim was approached on a street by Gerardi in March 2011. Shortly afterward, he allegedly asked her to perform sex acts with men in exchange for money and gave her rules to follow, including how much to charge and to lie about her age, the DA said. It was alleged that she reluctantly agreed to prostitute herself for him but that when she wanted to stop Gerardi became violently angry and told her to “get your head in the game — you have to make my money,” Brown said.
After she attempted to escape from Gerardi, he allegedly found her and threatened a beating if she tried again, the indictment said. Later, Gerardi allegedly had sex with the victim and had her perform oral sex on him on multiple occasions, according to Brown.
Gerardi also allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old girl who he also met on the street and ordered her to work as a prostitute by using threats of violence, the indictment said.
Prosecutors also alleged that the 13-year-old victim escaped from Gerardi in September 2013, but Gerardi, who went by the underworld name “Prince,” sent two women friends who beat her.
Stephensbush was arraigned Nov. 26 before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron on a 36-count indictment charging him with kidnapping, rape, sex trafficking, compelling and promoting prostitution, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Stephensbush, who also faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted, is being held in jail in lieu of $500,000. He is scheduled to reappear in court Feb. 4.
The indictment alleges that Stephensbush met the 15-year-old victim when she was changing buses on her way to school. He brought the girl to his apartment and refused to release her until she earned money for him by prostitution. He is charged with forcing her to accompany him to a place where two prostitution dates were waiting. The victim had sex with both and Stephensbush then allowed her to leave, according to the indictment.
The 15-year-old said it was not the first time she emerged from her school bus to find Stephensbush waiting for her, prosecutors said.
“Sex trafficking is a violent and degrading crime that will not be tolerated,” Brown said..
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-260-4536.