WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita massage parlor worker ensnared in a sex trafficking scheme thanked the government for its help in rebuilding her life before she was sentenced Monday to time served and probation.
Xiuqing Tian of Framingham, Mass., already has served more than six months in jail. She pleaded guilty in November to reduced charges of helping induce an immigrant to reside unlawfully in the United States.
In her plea deal, she admitted working for co-defendants Gary Kidgell of Waltham, Mass., and his wife, Yan Zhang, of Wichita. The document alleges they encouraged her to perform sex acts at the massage parlors where she worked.
“Life with him was miserable and nasty,” she told the court. “I am glad the government took him away from my life.”
Tian has also admitted helping Kidgell recruit other Chinese women by providing translation services and conducting interviews.
She thanked the court Monday for giving her a chance to start her new life. She told U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren that she did the wrong things when she came to America because she met the wrong people.
“Because of my mistakes, I caused the government a lot of work,” she said. “Also, sorry for myself.”
Both the prosecution and defense urged the court to hand down the lowest possible sentence under federal guidelines, agreeing Tian had turned her life around. Tian was arrested in September and remained jailed until her release in February to a halfway house. She has since gotten a full-time job and located an apartment where she can live.
In addition to time served, Tian was given two years of supervised release. Melgren said he wanted her to have the available resources of the probation office as she integrates into the community.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hart said the government believes Tian had been trafficked at first and then moved into “middle management” at the operation.
Tian was initially charged with the more serious charge of conspiracy to recruit women and coerce them to engage in commercial sex acts, but those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Authorities began investigating the massage parlors in 2010 after Wichita police detectives found Internet postings about sexual services. Officials sent in undercover officers to the massage parlors, where the officers paid for massages, but were offered, and declined, sex acts for an added price, according to the affidavit.
During a search of the massage parlors, officers found a notebook containing translations for sexually explicit phrases as well as copy for ads in Chinese-language newspapers in New York, Chicago and San Francisco offering “massage parlor hiring” in Kansas.
Court documents allege Kidgell and Zhang worked together and shared resources to operate nine massage parlors in Wichita. Tian has agreed to testify against her former employers, but their trial was put on hold when Zhang’s lawyer requested an evaluation to determine if his client is competent to stand trial.