Ryon Travis, 32, was indicted by a grand jury last week on multiple charges, including sex trafficking by force, fraud, and the production, transportation, and possession of child pornography. The Detroit man is accused of selling his four wives and seven children as sex slaves. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.
As reported by USA Today, authorities obtained a warrant on March 2 to search Ryon Travis’ Tuller Street residence amid an unspecified number of “state of Michigan fraud violations.” When police gained entry into the Travis home, they found one of his “wives,” chained to a “stripper pole” with a padlock around her neck. Police asked Travis why the 25-year-old woman was chained and he explained he was “about to get freaky with her.”
According to court documents, the woman said she lived with Ryon Travis and three other “wives” for at least two years. She said she was chained to the pole because she previously tried to escape. During her interview with federal authorities, the woman said she was severely beaten when her “husband” caught her trying to escape.
— Shaughn (@Shaughn_A) April 5, 2016
The woman said Travis regularly posted classified ads online in an attempt to sell his “wives. When prospective buyers came to the home, Ryon Travis would make them “pay him first – in cash.” Travis would then line the women up so the men could choose which woman they wanted to take home.
The 25-year-old woman also accused Travis of forcing her to give him the proceeds of her Social Security check each month.
During their search, authorities discovered two cell phones, which were registered in Ryon Travis’ name. According to reports, the phone contained sexually explicit images of children under the age of 12. Authorities said one of the photos featured a grown man having sexual relations with a child. As the sheets in the photo matched the sheets on Travis’ bed, officials believe the assault occurred in the Travis home.
— AR Human Services (@ARHumanServices) April 4, 2016
Detroit Free Press reports authorities believe they have enough evidence to prove Ryon Travis regularly sold his “children” to sexual predators online and took explicit photos to share with pedophiles. Investigators believe Travis had been engaged in the disturbing business for many years. “This was essentially a brothel or a house of prostitution,” a federal prosecutor vehemently argued in court.
Travis was arraigned in court Monday. He pleaded not guilty and asked to have his public defender dismissed. During the hearing, Travis said “It is against my religion to be represented by someone of another nation so I may as well represent myself, I’m a natural-born human of the American land. I choose not to do business with this court. I ask that this case be dismissed.”
“Your request is denied,” Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub replied.
At the request of the prosecution, Majzoub ordered Ryon Travis to be detained without bail. Majzoub said the defendant is a clear danger to children, women, and to anyone else who is vulnerable to a predator.
Although Travis requested her dismissal, public defender Stacey Studnicki advised the judge not to be swayed by the words of the accusers — who were yet to be cross-examined in court. She made a case for the release of Travis so that he could go back home to his “wife,” whom she identified as “Miss Moore.” Miss Moore was not available for comment.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said sex trafficking is a disturbing reality in our society, with victims often hiding in plain sight but unable to speak up due to psychological abuse. “The victims often feel powerless to flee because the trafficker exerts power over them—physical violence, threats, drugs, fear of arrest and even shame.”
It is unclear whether Ryon Travis is legally married to any of the women in his home or whether he fathered any of the children. However, he refers to them all as his “wives” and “children.”
[Image via Art Konovalov/Shutterstock]