When police searched the run-down, two-story house on Tuller Street in Detroit, they found something that took even longtime cops by surprise: a woman chained to a stripper’s pole, with a padlock around her neck.
She’d been there for weeks, she told police — a form of punishment for trying to escape the residence.
The 25-year-old woman told investigators she was a sex slave, one of four living in the home that authorities say was a prison-like brothel run by Ryon L. Travis, 32.
He called them his “wives,” but prosecutors have accused Travis of treating the women more like slaves who were marketed online for profit. After being unchained, the woman told police that she had known Travis since she was 19, and that over the past year and a half, he had forced her and the other women into sex work.
The woman noted that Travis had been pocketing her $700 Social Security disability check each month.
“She said that the defendant posted advertisements online and in chat rooms that he had four girls for sale,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said at a March 23 detention hearing whose audio was provided to The Washington Post. “And she said that if she or the other women refused to dance or perform sex acts, the defendant would be violent with them, and that he would hit them with a closed fist, kick them or push them down.”