A gay former Atlanta go-go dancer who turned teenage tricks into sex slaves was quickly convicted on Friday and faces up to life in prison on 10 charges ranging from human trafficking to pandering and aggravated child molestation.
The conviction, which took a Douglas County jury less than two hours to reach, came after a four-day trial in which prosecutors painted Steven Lemery (photo) as a predator who focused on underage teen males recruited through social media and quickly ensnared them in prostitution. Lemery ran the operation of a Douglasville home he shared with his wife, their children, his wife’s boyfriend and Atlanta drag queen Pasha Nicole.
“The victims in this case were often very reluctant to testify and tell people what happened to them,” Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ackley told the Douglas County Sentinel. “It is very traumatic to have to go into detail on the stand and face the humiliation and embarrassment of having been taken in and falling victim to this man. But when it was over and now with this verdict, they can now move on with their lives.”
Lemery was found guilty of six counts of human trafficking, two counts of aggravated child molestation, one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of pandering by compulsion. Lemery could receive up to two life sentences plus 160 years when he is sentenced on Sept. 5, according to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.
The conviction comes nearly six months after Nicole, known legally as Christopher Thomas Lynch, received a 14-year sentence for forcing a transgender teenager into prostitution, supplying her crack cocaine, creating graphic photos and video of her and driving her to meet sex-for-pay clients. Nicole pleaded guilty on March 7.
Nicole and Lemery were indicted in April 2011 by a Douglas County grand jury on 18 counts, ranging from aggravated child molestation to human trafficking and possession of drug-related objects, for enticing teens for sex and forcing them into sexual servitude.
Lemery’s trial included testimony from a teen who was 15 when Lemery had sex with him, a year under Georgia’s age of consent, and a South Carolina teen that was forced into prostitution. That teen testified that Lemery isolated him from outside contact and forced him into prostitution. Another victim from Alabama testified that Lemery forced him to advertise for sex on Craigslist and detailed an incident in which he was burned and forced to have sex, according to the Sentinel.
Finally, the victim got to how he was encouraged to be sold for sex in order to get money for gas so that Lemery could take him home. His cellphone went missing, he said, and he felt like he couldn’t tell anyone how he felt or any options to get home. He said it was when he asked to be taken home when Lemery told him about putting ads on Craig’s List, soliciting encounters from men. The victim said he didn’t see any other way to get out and Lemery set up an encounter, even negotiating a price before driving the boy to a house.
“I walked in and there was the black dude that just like grabbed me, pushed me down, got on top of me and held my arms (pinned down),” the victim said. “Then he had something and was like burning me. I don’t know if it was wax or plastic, but it burned.”
He described a struggle to get away and then an older white male entering and attempting to rape him as he laid on the floor. He was able to get free and then ran more than 15 minutes to a McDonald’s to get away. The boy said a few minutes after arriving there, Lemery showed up and didn’t waste anytime asking the boy for the money, but the victim said he was trying to escape and didn’t get paid.
Lemery, a former go-go dancer at BJ’s in Atlanta, did not testify during the trial.