A Texas pastor whose church works with victims of human trafficking resigned his position Thursday and turned himself in to law enforcement officials on prostitution charges.
Edward Ignacio Espinosa, 41, was arrested on a Class B misdemeanor prostitution charge after he paid for sexual acts at a local massage parlor last year, according to an arrest affidavit.
Espinosa's charge stems from a massage parlor targeted by undercover McLennan County Sheriff's Office investigators last year. Hundreds of men engaged in prostitution at two massage parlors in Waco between September and November, prompting investigators to raid the businesses in December.
Espinosa was a pastor at the church for eight years, but he was not actively involved with the Unbound program that assisted trafficking victims.
Women who were rescued from the human trafficking ring were assisted by UnBound, a nonprofit mission of Antioch Community Church that raises public awareness and provides services to trafficking victims. Church officials said Espinosa had no direct involvement with UnBound.
UnBound director Susan Peters said the organization and church were shaken with Espinosa's arrest. She said the women who were working at the massage parlors were victims of human trafficking and were made to provide "commercial sex" for clients.
Law enforcement officials said more arrests are likely, including potential sexual assault charges based on the video evidence.
"All these women were Asian women who did not speak English, were flown in and brought to different massage parlors, moved every few weeks, because by their statements they believe American men want different women," Peters said. "They don't have access to (immigration) papers, they live on the premises, there are cameras inside, and are watched 24 hours by live feed.
"Everything about their lives are very controlled, so they are not consenting adults who can walk away. This is a criminal activity to harbor human trafficking."