A federal court in San Antonio, Texas, convicted New Hampshire National Guard Lt. Colonel Raymond Valas, 41, of sex trafficking a minor. The minor was a 15-year-old girl. During the trial the Colonel said he was contacting the female prostitute as part of a research project for his Army War College thesis.
Valas made contact with the teenage prostitute during his stay at the Airport Hilton in San Antonio on August 26, 2013 according to an article by Guillermo Contreras in the San Antonio Express-News. Valas claimed he did not have sex with that prostitute. His attorney, John Convery, said that Valas took a lie-detector test and passed it, however, the judge did not allow said polygraph to be admitted as part of the defense’s evidence.
The teenage prostitute said Valas did have sex with her not once, but twice. He paid her $150 for each sexual encounter according to another article in the Express-News.
Breitbart Texas reviewed numerous evidentiary documents the federal government admitted as evidence showing several pages of phone numbers Valas allegedly used to call and text message advertisers on Backpage.com, a webpage commonly used to advertise prostitutes.
Valas claimed to not know the prostitute was a minor. The defense presented testimony of the trafficking victim’s testimony in two previous trials where she said she was instructed by her pimps to say she was over 18.
The government argued the girl was clearly underage according to a report by Jeremy Blackman with the Concord Monitor, a New Hampshire newspaper covering the trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barr claimed the girl had braces with pink bands on them.
Barr claimed the girl’s testimony could be trusted because her story had remained consistent while conveying her story to strangers that included law enforcement officers, prosecutors, probation officers and sexual-assault examiners.
As for his “research” claim, four fellow Army officers, not his superiors, testified that Valas told them he was contacting prostitutes for his work while out of town. U.S. Attorney Bettina Richardson mocked this testimony by asking, “Seriously, he’s been researching prostitutes for 12 years and never produces a research product about it? Is that reasonable or ridiculous?”
Ultimately, the jury did not buy Valas’s research defense and convicted the Lt. Colonel on the charge of sex trafficking a minor. Valas is being held in San Antonio pending a sentencing hearing.
Despite the Pentagon’s zero tolerance policy towards sex trafficking, four of Valas’ fellow officers testified on his behalf. These officers were all members of the New Hampshire National Guard.
The officers each said they saw nothing wrong with Valas reaching out to prostitutes, or that they would have to know the context. One of those officers, Jason Speitz is the sexual assault response coordinator for the New Hampshire National Guard. He was admonished by Federal Judge Fred Biery for being evasive in his answers.
Major General Bill Reddel said, in a statement on the New Hampsire Guard’s Facebook page, “This has been a trying time for all of us, but due process was carried out. We will continue to uphold the values and standards that make the New Hampshire National Guard a professional and well-respected military organization.”
The New Hampshire National Guard reported to the Concord Monitor that Valas was a respected former infantryman with an array of post-deployment accomplishments, including humanitarian work in El Salvador as pictured above. He also founded a hurling team, the Barley House Wolves, for veterans returning from overseas. Valas is married and has three children.
Breitbart Texas previously reported the trial and convictions of Malcom Deandre Copeland and Amber Doak who conspired with Marcus Deshawn Wright in trafficking this minor female and another one. Wright was also convicted of two counts of sex trafficking of minors and one count of production of child pornography according to an article by Van Darden on KSAT.
Valas could face up to life in prison. He is scheduled for sentencing on February 27, 2015.
Bob Price is a senior political writer for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX