Delay sought in sex trafficking trial amid #MeToo movement
CHICAGO — An attorney for an Illinois man accused of sex trafficking is citing the #MeToo movement in her request to delay his trial.
Benjamin Biancofiori, 38, of Naperville is accused of using death threats, vicious beatings and other abuse to force women into sexual servitude, the Chicago Tribune reported. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday.
But in a seven-page motion to the U.S. attorney’s office, Biancofiori’s lawyer, Andrea Gambino, seeks to draw a connection between her client’s case and allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and other male celebrities.
Gambino stated in the motion that she needs more time to create a questionnaire that would identify potential jurors who have participated in the #MeToo movement or may be prejudiced by “their own individual experiences with male sexual misconduct.” She also cited the media coverage of the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, who has admitted to abusing gymnasts at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison.
The U.S. attorney’s office hasn’t responded to Gambino’s request. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber is scheduled to hear the motion Thursday, according to records.
Gambino is also trying to keep federal prosecutors from introducing a document written by Biancofiori that describes what it takes to be a good pimp. The document was seized from Biancofiori’s apartment after his arrest in 2016.
Gambino has described the document as a work of fiction and said it would be prejudicial if it were allowed in the trial.
“His audience was himself and a select group of his fellow prisoners,” Gambino wrote. “An individual’s unpublished manuscript, clearly intended to be a novel or other work of fiction, is the embodiment of an individual’s ‘private inner sanctum of individual feeling and thought.'”
Biancofiori faces up to life in prison, if convicted. Two of his alleged associates are also facing charges, according to court records.
At least three alleged victims are expected to testify that Biancofiori ran a sex trafficking business out of his townhouse in Naperville.