LANSING, Mich. — On April 8, a Michigan woman arrived at a hospital with what a police detective would later describe as some of the worst bruising he’d ever seen.
The woman told police she had been sexually assaulted. She’d also been beaten with brass knuckles, imprisoned for three days and transported to have sex with a man for money.
The incident began when the woman went to a townhouse in Lansing, Mich., according to a transcript of testimony from Lansing Police Detective Mark Lewandowsky at a hearing to authorize charges.
The woman, whom the State Journal is not naming because she is a reported victim of sexual assault, expected to buy marijuana from 23-year-old Vincent Ovalle, according to Lewandosky.
Instead, Ovalle, whom she had known for a year and thought of as a friend, led her into the basement and refused to let her leave. Over the next three days Ovalle, his girlfriend Natausha Anderson, and another woman, Serenity Stephenson, took turns beating her, the victim said. All three face felony charges.
Speaking at a preliminary hearing earlier this month in Lansing’s 54A District Court, the woman described three days of horror.
After refusing to let her leave the basement, Ovalle, Anderson and Stephenson told the victim to strip naked and took turns beating her with a belt. Lewandowsky testified he could see outlines of a belt buckle in the woman’s bruises, which by then would have been nearly a week old.
Next Ovalle began to “inspect” the woman’s body. He had her put clothes back on so he could take pictures to post in online sex ads.
At one point Dexter Benning, a 30-year-old homeless man, arrived.
“Dexter asked Vinny if he could have some fun,” the victim testified. Ovalle obliged, and Benning sexually assaulted the woman with a wooden broomstick and glass bottle, she said. The woman was also forced to perform sex acts while the others watched.
At night, the trio “force fed” drugs to the victim to make her sleep so they wouldn’t have to actively watch her, Lewandowsky said.
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The next day, Ovalle left the victim in the care of Anderson and Stephenson. The two women took her back into the basement, stripped her naked and told her to lie on the concrete floor and hold a pillow over her face.
The women then kicked her and beat her with an orange extension cord and brass knuckles, she testified.
During the beating, the woman said she heard Anderson and Stephenson discuss the fact that Ovalle was forcing them to beat her, and how they wanted to avoid getting in trouble themselves.
The woman also testified that Ovalle had displayed a gun and, at times, threatened all three women with it.
When the beating concluded, Anderson and Stephenson told the victim to take a bath with Epsom salt.
Stephenson then escorted the victim to another location, where she had sex with a man for money. Afterward the woman had to give the $100 she’d earned to Ovalle.
“It was money that Vinnie felt that she owed him previously,” Lewandowsky testified. “That’s part of the reason why all this happens.”
All told, Ovalle and Anderson thought the victim owed them about $280, the detective said.
On her third day of captivity, another woman who overheard Anderson and Stephenson discussing the victim hatched an escape plan.
She told Ovalle she had arranged for a man from the Internet to pay for sex with the victim, and offered to escort her to the man’s house, Lewandowsky said.
When they left the townhouse, the woman let the victim call her mother, who met them and took the victim home. They later went to a local hospital.
The victim had a broken nose, two black eyes and bruises “all over her body,” Lewandowsky said.
Ovalle, Anderson, Benning and Stephenson were charged in June with four felonies apiece: first-degree criminal sexual conduct, torture, unlawful imprisonment and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.
They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Ovalle, Benning and Stephenson waived their preliminary hearings earlier this month and await trial in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Anderson’s attorney, Mary Chartier, argued at her preliminary hearing that Anderson should not be bound over for trial on the charges because she herself is a victim.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the criminal sexual conduct charge against Anderson.
Judge Hugh Clarke Jr., who described the victim’s experience as a “house of horrors” after hearing her testimony, ultimately bound Anderson over for trial on the remaining three charges.