BOSTON — The state’s appeals court upheld the convictions of a Salem, N.H. woman who sex trafficked young women at a brothel she ran in Lawrence.
Lori Ann Barron, 58, was sentenced to seven to nine years in state prison in after she was convicted by a superior court jury in June 2017 of three counts of sex trafficking, one count of deriving support from prostitution and one count of photographing an unsuspecting nude person at her business, The Day Spa for Gentlemen on South Broadway.
An attorney for Barron filed an appeal, arguing evidence seized during a search of Barron’s home at the time of her arrest should have been suppressed, and that she should get a new trial due to “ineffective assistance of counsel.”
But the appeals court, in a decision issued Monday, rejected both arguments.
The court ruled there “is no merit” to Barron’s “contention that her consent to the search was not voluntary.” The court noted a previous judge ruled Barron was “not coerced into providing consent” and that Barron “was cooperative with officers” when they arrived at her Salem, N.H. home.
“The officers were polite with the defendant and not overbearing, even permitting the defendant to walk freely through her home for some time,” according to the decision.
Once taken to a police station for booking, Barron also signed “a standard consent form authorizing a search of her house and vehicle after she had the opportunity to read the form and ask the officer questions. The officer explained that she was under no obligation to grant consent and could revoke it at any time,” according to the decision.
On the ineffective counsel claim, the court said they weigh “whether there has been serious incompetency, inefficiency, or inattention of counsel - behavior of counsel falling measurably below that which might be expected from an ordinary fallible lawyer.”
However, the court discerned “no abuse of discretion here,” according to the decision.
A jury of 12 deliberated for just four hours before finding Barron guilty on the five counts.
She was acquitted of a single charge; intimidation of a witness.
Barron, who did not take the stand in her own defense, was handcuffed and immediately taken into custody after the verdict was handed down.
During her five-day trial, Barron’s former workers testified they were initially hired by Barron as receptionists, then quickly moved into massage rooms where they would wear lingerie and perform manual sex acts.
Only Barron was allowed to touch cash payments at the brothel, the workers testified.
Barron installed hidden cameras in the massage rooms to collect video she would use against workers who challenged her or attempted to quit, the workers testified.
One woman said that when she refused to spank a client, Barron dragged her by her hair across the brothel and down a flight of stairs.
Barron was also sentenced to five years probation after completing her prison sentence. While on probation, Barron must register as a sex offender, get mental health counseling, stay away for her victims and surrender her state massage license.
Prosecutors wanted Barron to serve 12 to 15 years in jail while the defense sought no more than five years.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.