A Lakeport couple was arrested this week on suspicion of human trafficking after allegedly befriending and recruiting high school girls and later selling them as prostitutes in San Francisco.
Sam Lindsey Massette, 37, and his wife, Krystina Marie Pickersgill, 27, were booked Tuesday into the Lake County Jail on charges of human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. Massette also was charged with tax evasion.
The couple are scheduled to appear in court today for their arraignment.
Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson said Wednesday that this is the third case of human trafficking his office is prosecuting this year. He said both communities and law enforcement officials need to understand the prevalence of such crimes.
“It’s starting to get into the high schools,” he said.
The investigation began this spring when a teenager met Anderson after a theatrical performance about human trafficking and its effects on victims. The April event at the Soper-Reese Theater in Lakeport featured the play “Jane Doe in Wonderland,” followed by remarks by Anderson.
At the close of the event, the teenager told Anderson she was a victim of human trafficking. The District Attorney said he talked with her that night and arranged for her to speak with his investigators.
The girl said the couple had become friends with her via Facebook while she was in high school. Massette eventually persuaded her to send him nude photos of herself, and the girl later moved into the couple’s home, Anderson said.
After she turned 18, the couple offered to take her “to have some fun” in San Francisco, Anderson said. He said they told her, “By the way, you’re going to have to work.”
The work, he said, was prostitution.
On Tuesday investigators from the District Attorney’s Office served search warrants at the couple’s Lagoon Drive residence. After arresting Massette and Pickersgill, investigators seized two new Jaguars, two Mitsubishi automobiles and a large sum of cash, according to a press release, which added that officials believe neither Massette nor Pickersgill are involved in “legitimate business or income.”
The District Attorney’s Office alleged Wednesday that Massette and Pickersgill would recruit girls while in high school. “After turning 18, they would then take them to San Francisco where they would be sold as prostitutes,” the news release stated. The couple “would coerce and threaten the girls to perform acts of prostitution,” according to the release.
Investigators are aware of four young women who became involved with the couple, Anderson said. His office believes the human trafficking occurred for at least two years. Massette is being held with a bail of $2 million. Pickersgill’s bail is set at $1 million.
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285.