LIMA — Two Allen County residents charged with human trafficking appeared in Lima Municipal Court for preliminary hearings Monday.
At the conclusion of the hearings, Magistrate Richard Warren concluded there is sufficient evidence to bind the cases of Susian Walendzik, 42, and Grant Rose, 57, both of rural Bluffton, over to Allen County Common Pleas Court for consideration by an upcoming session of the grand jury. Both are charged with first-degree felony counts of trafficking in persons.
The alleged victim in the case, who police and prosecutors say was trafficked for sexual purposes since she was 12 years of age, took the witness stand and identified Rose as one of two persons who “made me do things … sexual things.”
The girl, now 18, said it was primarily Walendzik who arranged sexual meetings for her, while Rose would drive her to engage in the sexual acts “in parking lots, parks or at his home.”
Rose shook his head in a negative fashion throughout the girl’s testimony.
Lima Police Department Detective Steve Stechschulte testified that during a jailhouse interview, Walendzik admitted that on at least 10 occasions she participated in providing the victim to others for sexual purposes, and that money derived from the acts went to support her crack cocaine habit.
The charges against Walendzik and Rose, her live-in boyfriend of several years, stem specifically from alleged trafficking incidents between February and April of 2018, when the victim was less than 16 years of age. Stechschulte said investigators have been keeping an eye on the duo since that time and earlier this month set up a covert sting operation at a Lima motel.
Through the use of an internet site, investigators set up in the hotel room and waited for the female who was engaging in prostitution to arrive. On Dec. 2 the alleged victim arrived, dropped off at the motel by Rose and Walendzik. Stechschulte said that after money was exchanged for the pre-arranged sexual acts, officers arrested Rose and Walendzik in the parking lot of the motel.
Following Monday’s hearings, both Walendzik and Rose were ordered held in the Allen County jail under $500,000 bond. Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca King-Newman said the first-degree felony counts against each carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years upon conviction.