Lawsuit alleges high-profile GOP operative is child sex trafficking ‘ringmaster’

Lawsuit alleges high-profile GOP operative is child sex trafficking ‘ringmaster’

Early in August, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota announced the arrest of 30-year-old Anton “Tony” Lazzaro. Lazzaro is charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking with at least six minor victims. A couple of days later, a 19-year-old Minnesota woman, Gisela Castro Medina, was arrested in Florida and named Lazzaro’s co-defendant in the case. Part of what made this news was the shocking (not shocking) revelation that Lazzaro was a high-profile GOP operative in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Medina was reportedly the Minnesota College Republicans’ University of St. Thomas chair. 

On Tuesday, one of Lazzaro’s alleged victims, an underage girl, filed a lawsuit against Lazzaro, claiming that Lazzaro attempted to get her family to hush up about his relationship with the underage girl. As CBS reports, the lawsuit calls Lazzaro the “ringmaster” of a sex trafficking enterprise. ABC News reports that after Lazzaro offered the girl’s parents $1,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement, the father refused and contacted the FBI. The filing accuses Lazzaro of using his powerful position in the state’s GOP political world to “prey” on young women. ”When it became clear that Lazzaro had committed serious crimes, he attempted to coerce his victims and their families into keeping silent.”

According to ABC News, the lawsuit alleges that Medina helped Lazzaro recruit underage girls like the plaintiff for sex. In exchange, the girls were given gifts and money. In this specific case, the victim says that she met Medina when she was 14 years old. The two became friends, and when the girl was 16, in 2020, Medina introduced her to Lazzaro. The lawsuit alleges that between May and July of 2020, Lazarro had the plaintiff brought to his home “on several occasions” where “multiple commercial sex acts” occurred. After a few months of this, Lazzaro is suspected of trying to get the girl to agree to keep mum on all of this illegal activity. According to the lawsuit, it seems that the girl began blowing up Lazzaro’s spot on social media.

And so Lazzaro tried to pay to make it all go away:

The proposed non-disclosure agreement says Lazzaro and the girl had “a consensual interaction in the recent past,” the lawsuit says. The proposed agreement offers $1,000, and in exchange the girl and her parents would agree not to publicly disparage Lazzaro or Medina. It also demanded that they “not disclose the nature of the prior interaction with Mr. Lazarro to the public” so he could continue his sex trafficking enterprise, the lawsuit says.

Lazzaro remains in jail, facing ten counts, with allegations that some of his victims were as young as 15-years-old. The lawsuit says that the girl has suffered psychological trauma and seeks to be compensated for the continued medical and psychological treatment the girl will be receiving. Lazzaro continues to maintain his innocence, saying that all of the allegations are false.

Lazzaro is reported to have given tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, party units and political action committees in recent years.” He has close ties to Minnesota state Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan. Carnahan has called the charges against Lazzaro and Medina “heinous and disturbing” and has distanced herself from Minnesota College Republicans, saying the state GOP organization “has no jurisdiction over the Minnesota College Republicans.”

And while there have been calls for Carnahan to resign, KARE11 reports that the chairwoman still has solid support in the Minnesota GOP Executive Committee. Here’s the GOP’s state Senate Majority Leader, Paul Gazelka being diplomatic.

There are allegations that have come to light regarding the leadership at the state party. I fully trust the executive board and state central delegates to find a path forward for our party. It’s very important that we look at all of the facts before we make any decisions.

— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) August 16, 2021

Surprising no one, Gazelka didn’t have the same opinion on Democratic Rep. John Thompson, who is embroiled in his own scandal over allegations of past domestic violence accusations.

Thompson should have never been elected in the first place. Calling for a resignation now is a cop out. Allegations of domestic abuse against women and children should have disqualified him from the endorsement by the DFL and by Governor Walz. #mnleg

— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) July 17, 2021

For now, Gazelka is sticking with Carnahan, even though a former Republican Party of Minnesota executive director, Andy Aplikowski, just posted a big statement that calls into question Jennifer Carnahan’s relationship with Anton Lazzaro and her understand of Lazzaro’s “lifestyle,” writing that Carnahan was made aware of investigations into Lazarro’s activities far earlier than she has publicly claimed. 

My #MNGOP story of abusive leadership by Jennifer Carnahan and her connections to Anton ‘Tony’ Lazzarro.

— Andy Aplikowski🍎 🐄 🎿 (@andyformn) August 19, 2021

It also alleges Carnahan has used and continues to use the Party’s donation war chest to make payouts in the form of severance to “silence former Republican staffers,” as well as “bully and silence political staff, volunteers, and victims.”

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