Brian Kersten, a veterinarian from Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, was sentenced on Wednesday to more than four years for trafficking East Asian women to Minnesota.
The 61-year-old pleaded guilty to two felony counts of engaging in the sex trafficking of a person and aiding and abetting labor trafficking after prosecutors charged him in September.
Kersten was sentenced to 48 and 53 months in prison for each charge, respectively, according to the Pioneer Press.
The case is also the first labor trafficking conviction and sentence in the state of Minnesota.
The Baldwin Veterinary Clinic owner admitted to transporting women from China to the Extended Stay hotel in Woodbury, MN, in the summer of 2016.
The case was prosecuted by Imran Ali, the Washington County assistant attorney, who said in a statement: “Kersten was part of an international conspiracy to bring foreign nationals into Minnesota for the purpose of prostituting them. We have to remember that these are NOT victimless crimes. All these women being trafficked are indeed victims.”
An investigation into Kersten found that he had been working with a Chinese national named Shixin Zhang in New York, where authorities said the vet would give a portion of his profits for women he transported and advertised on Backpage.com.
One of Kersten’s family members told police that he had been bringing Chinese girls to work in massage parlors.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput’s office has come up with a special unit to prosecute a wide-range of cases from adults who search online for underage girls and boys to traffickers who hire adults and minors for sexual services.
“This case merely shows the depth and breadth of the sex trafficking occurring in this state,” Orput said in the statement. “We, as a concerned public, need to acknowledge this and persevere in doing all we can to bring labor and sex traffickers to the justice they deserve.”