PORTLAND — A 48-year-old Biddeford man facing federal charges that he took a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostituting her to others remains in custody, following his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

Leo Grondin, who allegedly pimped the victim and other women through advertisements on backpage.com and other websites, is scheduled appear at U.S. District Court in Portland Friday for a detention hearing, according to documents on file at the court. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison if he is convicted.

Among the array of evidence found in connection with the case, authorities say, was a handwritten contract signed by Grondin and the victim, with each pledging not to engage in prostitution or pimping without the other. The penalty for violating the contract described a physical violation.

Grondin was taken into custody about a month after Biddeford Police Officer Ronald Phillips, who is assigned as a member of Homeland Security’s Human Trafficking Task Force, began researching a phone number he saw on websites that typically advertise sexual services, and traced it to Grondin, according to an affidavit. The number used in the advertisements was the same number Grondin apparently used on a website that advertised furniture repair and remodeling.

Then, about 10 days later, the victim’s daughter called Biddeford Police indicating she had come across some information while installing an application on her mother’s cell phone. She told the Phillips she discovered email conversations regarding prostitution, and ads promising “in home specials for prostitution” that included Grondin’s home address. When the daughter confronted her mother about the alleged events, the victim admitted Grondin was prostituting her and other women.

The daughter said since her mother began a relationship with Grondin, she had become depressed and isolated from her extended family. Phillips, in the affidavit, said from his experience and training he knew that sex traffickers often use isolation and other forms of psychological pressure as a means of coercing or controlling victims.

Among the documents police secured was a copy of the contract, ads using Grondin’s telephone number offering sexual services, and emails that appeared to be conversations with potential clients.

Police on July 16 found an advertisement with Grondin’s phone number that led them to a Dover, New Hampshire motel where they found Grondin and the victim. He was taken into custody on a New Hampshire state warrant, and police drove the victim home when she said she had no way to get there.

The victim allegedly told police she had met Grondin a year ago and that he began harassing her until she agreed to work for him as a prostitute. She allegedly told police he had taken her across state lines many times for prostitution. She said he always took all of the money from her encounters, and that in the past had become physically violent when she refused to engage in prostitution.

According to Biddeford Police, Grondin pled guilty in 2014 to theft by receiving stolen property.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]



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