Anton Lazzaro trial: Victim says Lazzaro paid her for sex when she was just 16
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The emotions for the woman known as "Victim D" began shortly after she took the stand. Asked to point out Tony Lazzaro for the jury, she clearly had trouble looking at the now 32-year-old, then began to stifle sobs.
She was one of three alleged sex trafficking victims to testify Monday in Lazzaro’s sex trafficking trial. She was also the last one of the total of five alleged victims, two of whom testified last week.
Lazzaro is charged with sex trafficking of minors, conspiracy, and obstruction. He’s been in custody since the fall of 2021 when he was arrested.
Victim D, who was 16 in September 2020 when she went to Lazzaro’s downtown Minneapolis condominium and had sex in exchange for gifts and hundreds of dollars in cash, testified that her life changed afterward.
"After Tony, I stopped eating, started isolating, started drinking," she testified. "I started taking three showers a day because I never felt clean anymore."
She received a brand-new iPhone the first time she met with Lazzaro. The second time, she said, he gave her $800. Under questioning from prosecutors, she was asked if she wanted to have sex with Lazzaro, and like all the other alleged victims who testified, replied that she did not. She wanted the gifts and the cash.
The mother of that same victim also testified about how she grew suspicious when her daughter, an honor roll student, was suddenly struggling in school in only the first month of that school year. When she saw the brand-new iPhone and noticed hundreds of dollars deposited into her bank account, she confronted her and eventually got her to talk.
"I was horrified," she testified. "I couldn’t believe that someone would do that to my daughter and lure her in that way."
Earlier, another alleged victim testified about how she was messaged through Snapchat by alleged co-conspirator Gisela Castro Medina.
"The message was, ‘my Sugar Daddy thinks you’re cute,’" she testified. She said she knew, and her friends knew, that Sugar Daddies were older men that bought things for younger women for company, and "people thought that was kind of cool."
Jurors were shown security video of her meeting Lazzaro at the Mall of America, where he bought her a $1,400 Prada purse. She declined to go home with him after that, lying that she had to see her grandfather, and hoped to avoid him after that.
But soon, she did go to his condo with the promise of money.
"It was collectively known what I was there for," she said. "So we moved pretty quick to his room where I had sex with him and then he gave me another $800."
Lazzaro’s defense is expected to begin their side of the case on Tuesday. They aim to prove the girls were all there willingly and the sex was consensual, telling jurors in opening statements that "these young ladies were there because they wanted to be."
The prosecution explained to jurors in their opening statement that it doesn’t matter how willing the alleged victims were. Federal law makes it illegal to entice or recruit anyone under age 18 to have sex in exchange for anything of value.