By Luke Stocker
Jeremiah Eli Bessolo-Marsh of Yolo County was arraigned on 10 charges yesterday including human sex trafficking, statutory rape, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. All the charges stemmed from a six-month relationship Bessolo-Marsh had with a Winters area high school girl.
The victim, who was 16 at the time of the alleged crimes, dropped out of high school to live with 21-year-old Bessolo-Marsh shortly after meeting him. The couple met in September of 2017 at a Bay Area party that the victim and her friend attended.
The victim had engaged in heavy drug usage prior to meeting the defendant and had sex frequently during the summer of 2017. She would obtain her drugs from dealers in Woodland and beyond. However, after meeting Bessolo-Marsh in September, both of these activities intensified until eventually the victim left home to live with Bessolo-Marsh.
The couple dated for the following six months. Throughout the majority of this time period they lived out of Bessolo-Marsh’s car. They would sneak into the houses of Bessolo-Marsh’s relatives while they were asleep to use the bathroom and shower. When this was not an option they would be forced to urinate in the woods.
Bessolo-Marsh had sold drugs when he was in the army and had experience. According to the victim he was the one who sold the drugs and interacted with clients.
As the relationship progressed so did the victim’s drug usage. The victim described herself as being “constantly high” and she had trouble recalling some events in totality. She had consumed three to five grams of cocaine per day before meeting the defendant. She had also taken LSD and “Molly” (a street form of MDMA/ecstasy) on a regular basis.
As the financial situation of the couple worsened, the victim began to sell nude pictures and videos of herself over Snapchat to make money.
According to the victim, Bessolo-Marsh “hated this” practice but went along with it nonetheless. In addition to paying for food and gas, the money from the nudes helped pay off unspecified debts accrued by Bessolo-Marsh before meeting the victim.
The victim had attempted to sell nudes over Snapchat before meeting Bessolo-Marsh, but was unable to so without a bank account. She had previously attempted to use other people’s bank accounts to sell nudes, but was unable to find any willing participants.
Bessolo-Marsh allowed the victim to use his bank account to sell the nudes and also sold many over his phone. Despite the previous intent of the victim to sell nude photos, these actions were enough for Bessolo-Marsh to be arraigned for human trafficking of a minor for commercial sex.
After the loss of Bessolo-Marsh’s job forced the couple into homelessness, they lived out of Bessolo-Marsh’s car in the Lake Berryessa region. They began selling the nude photos there. They later moved the car to Rodeo in Contra Costa County and continued the practice there. The nudes were usually sold for $60-70 apiece and the money was processed using PayPal. There were a total of seven sales of photos in three days, totaling $250.
During the relationship, the couple frequently visited Chico to buy drugs from a dealer the victim knew in the area. The trips to Chico continued when the couple moved to Rodeo.
Eventually the couple stopped making enough money to support their cocaine habit. They opted for a cheaper alternative and began purchasing methamphetamine.
Around this time the law caught up with Bessolo-Marsh and the Winters Police Department began to investigate him. Tipped off by parents and school officials, the police began to look into the relationship between Bessolo-Marsh and the victim.
In his first case as detective, Officer Gordon Brown of the Winters PD discovered the selling of nude photos and videos by the victim and Bessolo-Marsh. He filed a search warrant for both of their phones.
Aware of the impending search warrant, Bessolo-Marsh and the victim deleted all the photos off their phones. Bessolo-Marsh coached the victim on what to say to the police. The victim took the blame at first and tried to cover for Bessolo-Marsh. This would later lead Bessolo-Marsh to be accused of dissuading a witness.
At this time the parents of the victim filed a restraining order against Bessolo-Marsh on her behalf. However, the victim repeatedly called Bessolo-Marsh. He responded and violated the protective order. This added to the charges against him when he was eventually arrested in May.
In addition to human trafficking of a minor, furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, dissuading a witness, and violating a protective order, Bessolo-Marsh may also be charged with statutory rape, oral copulation with a minor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.