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NEW: Former FCPD officers reject lawsuit claim they helped sex trafficking ring

Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters (via FCPD)

The two former Fairfax County Police Department officers accused of protecting a sex trafficking ring have denied the allegations and demanded proof in a lawsuit against them.

Michael O. Barbazette and Jason Mardocco denied any knowledge of or involvement in a sex trafficking ring that the victim who filed the lawsuit says forced her and other women to work as prostitutes.

“To the extent that plaintiff claims that she was trafficked and forced to work as a prostitute, these defendants lack knowledge to respond,” a lawyer for the officers said in an answer to the second amended complaint, filed May 24 in federal court in Alexandria.

In their response to the lawsuit, the officers also deny obstructing and interfering with an investigation into the trafficking ring by a former FCPD detective with the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.

The complaint by the victim, identified only as Jane Doe, claims that Barbazette made it difficult for detective William Woolf to do his work, maintaining “unprecedented, strict control” over his investigative activities and denying approvals of his investigation.

Per the suit:

While at first defendant Barbazette was indifferent, not to say hostile, to Det. Woolf’s trafficking work, in 2014-15 he started demonstrating a substantial interest in Det. Woolf’s interviews with the trafficking victims he worked with. He started joining Det. Woolf on interviews of trafficking victims, and on at least one occasion told Det. Woolf to give him a trafficking victim’s telephone number.

According to the court filing from the officers’ attorney, Barbazette admits he was Woolf’s supervisor for a time but denies the allegations, which include that he ordered Woolf not to investigate sex trafficking cases, and demanded proof.

The lawsuit stems from a prostitution ring run by Hazel Marie Sanchez Cerdas, who pleaded guilty to felony racketeering and was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in August 2019, with credit for time served.

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