A man who forced three women to have sex with men while filming them for pornographic websites must serve four years in prison, after Hope for Justice and law enforcement held him to account.
43-year-old North Michigan resident, Jerry Gildner, previously admitted to 62 charges including human trafficking resulting in injury or commercial sexual activity, using a computer to commit a crime, and surveilling an unclothed person. The three women who were exploited had all been in relationships with Gildner at the time.
Hope for Justice welcomes the sentencing, which took place at Charlevoix County Court on Friday (19th November), after we worked closely with local law enforcement to carry out the investigation.
We have received a handwritten thank you letter from one of the three women, who wrote:
“After twenty years of trying to seek justice for what we had experienced, it was a relief that…the Hope for Justice team…didn’t dismiss what we were saying.
“After twenty years, I never thought I would see the day when the individual involved was brought to justice. Thank you for all of the work you have done to bring this person to justice…hopefully this will prevent him from doing the same thing to anyone else.”
The first step towards justice
Our U.S. team was first contacted by one of the victims around three years ago. She told us she had been trafficked by Gildner throughout their former relationship. She said he had controlled her by threatening to withhold food and other essentials from her and her son if she did not have sex with men, some of whom were registered sex offenders, at their home. She said he filmed the sex acts and sold the films to pornographic websites.
The woman also said that two other women had experienced the same ordeal at the hands of the man, also when they were in a relationship with him. Hope for Justice located and contacted these women, who confirmed that they had had the same experience.
We referred all three women to counselling and support services, to help them to recover from their ordeal, and begin to finally move on with their lives.
A joint operation
Our team then began working closely with law enforcement, carrying out interviews and conducting surveillance. Police officers then carried out a search of Gildner’s home, after which he was arrested and charged in January 2019.
The court case has been carried out since then, with many delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Richard Schoeberl, US Investigations Team Leader at Hope for Justice, said: “We are relieved that finally, justice has been done for these women, who suffered an horrific and prolonged ordeal at the hands of a man they were in a relationship with at the time. We would like to thank the women for their incredible bravery in sharing their stories and helping to hold their trafficker to account.
“We hope the sentence will send out a clear message to other traffickers that their behavior will not be tolerated, and that we will come together with the rest of the anti-trafficking community to put a stop to it. Together, we can change lives and end human trafficking.”