QUEENS — Two men — including an ex-con who lives in tony Forest Hills Gardens — have been indicted for "enslaving" and raping three underage girls and forcing them to work as prostitutes, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Peter Gerardi, 28, of Forest Hills Gardens, allegedly entrapped two girls — aged 13 and 16 years old — and forced them to work as prostitutes between March and September 2011, prosecutors said. In an unrelated case, Christopher Stephensbush, 20, of Richmond Hill, allegedly entrapped a 15-year-old girl in June 2013 and forced her into prostitution, prosecutors said.
The men were arrested and charged in separate cases for kidnapping, rape, sex trafficking, unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said.
“The defendants are both accused of enslaving three young girls, raping them and forcing them to work as prostitutes,” said Brown in a statement. “They allegedly forced the girls to turn all of their money over to them."
Gerardi is suspected of befriending a 13-year-old girl he met on the street in March 2011 and forcing her to have sex with multiple men for money. He coached her on how to prostitute herself, including telling her how much to charge and warning her to lie about her age, prosecutors said.
When the girl tried to put a stop to the pattern, Gerardi allegedly became angry and threatened her by saying, “get your head in the game and you have to make my money” and “you are my ride or die...”
Gerardi also had sex with the victim, according to the Queens DA's office.
Brown said the girl managed to escape from Gerardi in September 2011. When she refused to return, Gerardi had his two female friends beat her up “because she wasn’t being good to [him]'” Brown said.
Around that same time, Gerardi also allegedly forced a 16-year-old girl — whom he also met on the street — to have sex with him and to work as a prostitute, prosecutors said.
Gerardi was ordered held without bail. He is due back in court on Dec. 19.
His lawyer, David Cohen, said Gerardi denies all of the charges and looks forward to fighting them in court.
In 2004, Gerardi and three other teens, including his younger brother Herman, were arrested in connection to a Christmas Eve attack on three 20-year-old men outside of the Midway Theater in Forest Hills. Davey Adames was killed and two others wounded in the attack.
Gerardi pleaded guilty to gang assault and was sentenced to five years in prison, according to the Queens DA's office. Another man, Pierre Arias, was convicted of murder in the case.
Stephensbush met a 15-year-old girl in June 2013, when she was changing buses on the way to school in the morning.
According to the DA’s office, he brought her to his apartment and would not let her leave until she earned money for him by sleeping with other men. He also allegedly raped her multiple times before letting her go several days later.
Stephensbush is being held in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. He is due back in court on Feb. 4. His attorney did not immediately return phone calls.
“Sex trafficking is a violent and degrading crime that will not be tolerated,” Brown noted.
If convicted, the men each face up to 25 years to life in prison.