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A woman pleaded guilty today to helping her husband keep a young woman locked up as a sex slave in their rural home.
Marilyn Bagley, 47, and husband Edward had been scheduled for trial in February on multiple charges including sex trafficking.
Prosecutors allege Edward Bagley, 45, persuaded a 16-year-old girl to live with the couple in Lebanon, Missouri.
They say she was then given drugs and tortured until she was hospitalized in February 2009. The girl was a runaway and mentally disabled.
The Bagleys had claimed the sex acts were consensual and part of the sexual lifestyle they practiced.
Defense attorneys plan to show evidence of 'sadistic sexual assaults'.
The girl allegedly suffered water-boarding, electric shock, piercing and mutilation, according to the Kansas City Star.
Marilyn Bagley was in court this morning for an unannounced appearance.
Her plea deal has recommended that she be sentenced to probation.
Her husband faces life in prison for his prolonged torture of the young woman.
Four other men have been charged for allegedly paying Bagley to have sex with his 'slave' and to watch webcam sessions of her being tortured.
The girl, who cannot be identified, featured on the cover of S&M magazine Taboo in 2010 - and her 'Master Ed' was also photographed holding a rope.
Horrors: The young woman, who is mentally disabled, was drugged and kept as a sex slave at the Bagleys' trailer
The sordid case has caused some S&M advocates to fear a negative reaction to their lifestyle choices, which have come to public attention partly because of E.L. James's novel 50 Shades of Grey.
Manipulation: The young woman was allegedly forced to appear on the cover of S&M magazine Taboo (her face has been blurred to protect her identity)
Some worry it could open up people who practice bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism - or BDSM - to criminal charges for consensual acts they're already performing, said Susan Wright, founder of the Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in September.
'We are following this case specifically because we were hoping this issue would not come up,' she said.
Ed Bagley is accused of grooming the young woman to be his sex slave from 2002, then keeping her captive for years while making money from her images on fetish Internet sites and forcing her to work as a dancer at strip clubs.
The case came to light in early 2009 after the woman, then 23, was hospitalized after what prosecutors said was a torture session. Then-U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called the case one of 'the most horrific ever prosecuted in this district'.
Advocates for the BDSM community say even the most brutal acts detailed in Bagley's federal indictment are not criminal acts, as long as there was consent. But if the woman was too young or not intelligent enough to consent, as prosecutors allege, or if she initially gave consent and then changed her mind, it amounts to criminal sexual abuse.
As in several other states, Missouri assault laws limit instances in which consent can be used as a defense against criminal charges when serious injuries occur.
Exceptions generally are made for athletic activities and the victim's occupation or professions in which the conduct and harm are reasonably foreseeable hazards.
Wright's group contends 'serious physical injury' is not well-defined under law.
'The assessment of the seriousness of harm is often affected by judges' "moral judgments about the iniquity of the conduct,"' the organization says on its website in a section focusing on the consent issue.
'Courts tend to inflate the risk and harmfulness of an activity they want to denounce. For example, any injury caused during a sadomasochistic encounter has been consistently classified as serious.'
Wright notes that regardless of the legal precedent, prosecutors' attempts to present acts between Bagley and his wife as evidence in the Missouri case also comes at a time when kinky sex practices appear to be gaining broader public acceptance amid the popularity of the E.L. James 50 Shades of Grey bondage books.
'Because of 50 Shades of Grey, a lot of people are trying BDSM for the first time this year,' she said.
'We want to be sure they understand they have to do these activities consensually, and to make sure they have the skill to do them safely.'