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UPDATE: It started with stripping on party buses, then selling sex; county charges alleged pimp

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Damon DiMartino, 40, of St. Paul, was charged in Washington County District Court with promoting prostitution of a minor. The victim was 17.

As promised by County Attorney Pete Orput, the sex-trafficking charges come on the heels of a press conference about a comprehensive plan organizing all law enforcement agencies in the county against prostitution and other major crimes. Assistant county attorney Imran Ali took the job of county’s major crimes specialist and a grant has allowed the county to invest in two years of crime analysis, as the coalition of prosecutors, law enforcement, and social services agencies takes on a growing industry.

“We pledged last week to come down hard on those individuals who traffic our youth and rob them of their innocence. We will do that here,” Orput said in a press release about the charges levied against DiMartino. “I sincerely hope that those traffickers will hear this message and know that Washington County carries a big stick.”

DiMartino is scheduled to appear in court next week.

According to the criminal complaint:

Forest Lake Police Department responded to a domestic disturbance call involving loud yelling at 7:51 p.m. Oct. 14 in the 400 block of Lake St. S. in Forest Lake. While police investigated, a girl, who has since turned 18 years old, was extremely upset with her mother and said she was involved with prostitution to support herself.

In June 2015 the girl had been kicked out of her mother’s home and was living with friends.

One night, after the clubs closed, she went to an after-party near the Loft nightclub, somewhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul, and met a man nicknamed “D.”

She asked him to lend her money, and he said she had to work for it.

In interviews with police, the girl called DiMartino her pimp. The man collects money for her services and she gets a cut of the profits. He also gave her alcohol and drugs prior to sexual encounters because she gets “anxious,” she said.

The girl believed she was DiMartino’s property.

She admitted to stripping on party buses at the man’s direction. After a week of stripping, she began performing sexual acts during the parties.

The victim said she believed he had a half dozen girls working for him.

DiMartino charged the Forest Lake girl $150 service fee for each encounter, for arranging the jobs and providing security.

She typically set her own prices, but DiMartino took 50 to 75 percent of what she made. He began calling her his “No. 1” because she was the youngest of the girls and he liked her the most. They had sex on multiple occasions, as well as having sex with others at his direction on multiple occasions.

On Oct. 14, DiMartino picked up the girl at her home in Forest Lake, took her to a Best Western in the 100 block of Anthony Ave. in St. Paul. After three shots of Absolut peach vodka and a Kinky Cocktails, she was paid $250 for sexual acts with a man she met in the hotel restaurant. DiMartino bought her the alcohol, introduced her to the man, and waited in the restaurant while the victim was alone with the man. DiMartino received $40 from the victim.

DiMartino drove the victim to a party that night. Another man asked him how much it would cost to have sex with the girl. She did not know the agreed-upon price, but she received $40 for sex with the man.

Cell phone data also showed evidence of DiMartino solicitating and promoting the girl’s prostitution.

“There is a party bus on Saturday that needs strippers you interested?” one Aug. 20 text said.

On Aug. 21, DiMartino text: “Are you willing to go full service?” He also texted to ask if the girl would perform sex acts with five to 10 men for $50 each.

On Aug. 23, the girl told DiMartino she had stripped on a party bus. He responded via text: “other people never know how to tell our business thats why we dont tell them. You endangered me and my business I will have to make a decision.”

On Aug. 27, DiMartino advised the girl to start taking birth control “so you don’t get pregnant fool” and to get the “day-after pill” after they had had sex.

The complaint suggests DiMartino knew the girl’s age.

He text messaged her about no longer purchasing her cigarettes, stating “your still a kid” and “I would be robbing you of your innocence.”

DiMartino also sells drugs, and the victim’s role was to distribute drugs so that the man would not be found in possession of them.

Police asked if she had ever been harmed while prostituting for the defendant. She had been punched and slapped during various prostitution acts and that if she ever did anything wrong “there would be consequences,” she said. DiMartino likes to have “angry sex,” putting his hands around his partner’s neck, the victim said. After she threatened to leave the situation, DiMartino told her “he was going to get me,” she said.

DiMartino twice has been convicted of criminal sexual conduct, in 1999 and 2013, the latter for which he is on probation in Ramsey County. Due to his prior history and ongoing criminal behavior, a high bail was requested.