Man convicted in Vermont's first-ever sex trafficking trial

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 4:59 PM EDT
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A jury has convicted a man in the first-ever sex trafficking trial in Vermont.

Brian Folks, 44, was found guilty on 15-of-16 charges involving drugs, guns and prostitution.

The prosecution says Folks coerced numerous women who are addicted to heroin to prostitute themselves as part of a drug and sex ring he operated out of Burlington for several years.

The jury deliberated for six hours and found Folks guilty on all counts except a gun charge. This included heroin and cocaine distribution, as well as the trafficking of at least five young women for commercial sex.

Legal expert Jerry O'Neill explained why it's rare for these cases to go to a jury.

"Well first of all, you don't get that many instances where you can line up the witnesses and get them to cooperate and testify. These are people who are in very difficult circumstances. They're usually drug addicts. They have been forced into prostitution. They don't particularly want to be involved in this. They're often afraid of the person they're testifying against. So it's a very difficult combination of locating them, getting them to cooperate, getting them to show up, getting them to testify," O'Neill said.

Folks faces the possibility of life in prison. His sentencing date has not yet been set.