A convicted sex trafficker who ran a massage parlor in Mount Prospect and was described by one of his victims as "pure evil" was sentenced Monday to life in prison.
Alex Campbell, 47, of Glenview, was found guilty by a federal jury in January on charges including sex trafficking, forced labor and harboring illegal aliens.
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U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman imposed the maximum sentence on Campbell after a six-hour hearing Monday in Chicago. Gettleman said the term was fitting, given that Campbell branded his victims for life with forced tattoos.
"They have a life sentence -- all of them … and their life sentence at your hands compels a life sentence for you," Gettleman said. "None of them will ever be able to look in the mirror and forget what you did to them."
Campbell, who once operated the Day and Night Spa in Mount Prospect, continued to declare his innocence during a rambling, two-hour statement in which he repeatedly denied forcing women into the sex trade or abusing them.
Campbell said he was the victim of a "witch hunt" set up by the government to land a high-profile case. He also said he was stereotyped against because he is African-American.
"You are sentencing an innocent man," he said.
According to prosecutors, Campbell used emotional and physical abuse to force at least three women from the Ukraine and one from Belarus to work for him without pay. That included sending them to massage parlors in Arlington Heights and Chicago to engage in commercial sex.
Another victim, who testified Monday, said Campbell recruited vulnerable, troubled women to be part of his "family" under the ruse of helping them. She said Campbell often beat, raped and humiliated the victims. In once instance, she said, Campbell tied two women to strip-club poles and beat one of them with a hammer.
"Not very many words can describe what this man does except for evil," she testified. "He's pure evil."
Authorities said Campbell told victims he ran an international organization that could provide the support they desperately needed. He offered them jobs in his massage parlor, a place to live and help with immigration.
Many of the women also were lured into romantic relationships with Campbell, who sometimes went by the nickname "Daddy." After gaining the victims' trust, he forced them to get a tattoo of his moniker, often on their necks, arms and in other highly visible places on the body.
To maintain control, Campbell took the victims' passports and immigration documents, prosecutors said. When one woman wanted to leave, he demanded $25,000 or said he would send a sexually explicit video of her to her parents.
"He did everything he could to break them down as human beings," Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Grimes said in court. "He sought them out to take advantage of them. He is a predator in every sense of the word."
Authorities identified about a dozen women who were victimized by Campbell, but Grimes said the total number is likely much greater.
Campbell, who had faced a minimum 15 years, was previously convicted of shooting his sister-in-law three times at close range at a children's birthday party in Chicago in the 1980s. He served 10 years in prison for the crime.
In addition to the life sentence imposed Monday, Campbell was ordered to pay $124,000 in restitution. He has no chance of parole.
Defense attorney Mark Kusatzky said Campbell will appeal his conviction in the trafficking case.