Thursday, November 29, 2007

Atlanta: Sex Trafficking Victim Recounts Experience

RICHARD MILLER/Special
Former pro wrestler Harrison 'Hardbody' Norris Jr., shown giving his own opening argument, lured women by promising to turn them into wrestlers, but testimony by one of the women, 'Lexi,' illustrated how it was really a sex trafficking ring.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - Strung out on drugs and reeling from the death of her daughter, Lexi thought she had hit rock bottom in that Cobb County extended-stay hotel.

Then came the muscle-bound man in the black SUV.

He pulled up to Lexi as night fell on a gas station parking lot off Windy Hill Road in June 2005. He introduced himself as "Hardbody" and asked Lexi whether she had ever considered a job in professional wrestling. She was flattered.

The guy seemed legit. He pulled out fliers from his training facility: the Southstar Championship Wrestling Alliance. And the eight women inside his GMC Denali said they were wrestling understudies, too. No matter that they were wearing mini-skirts and stiletto heels.

"Being on the streets, you get tired," she would say later. "This seemed like something positive in my life."

Lexi disappeared into the SUV with the "HARDBDY" license plate and hoped it would take her to something better.

Instead, a federal jury ruled last week, 30-year-old Lexi had entered a sex trafficking ring run by Harrison "Hardbody" Norris Jr. The former pro wrestler was found guilty of peonage, forced labor, aggravated sexual abuse and sex trafficking involving Lexi and four other victims. In essence, he turned them into sex slaves at his two Cartersville homes. Jurors also found Norris, 41, guilty of conspiracy charges involving three other women...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AJC.com

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