A former gang member dubbed “Beanz,” who is facing up to life in prison for allegedly running a sex trafficking business from his Illinois home, is asking a federal judge to delay his trial over concerns he won’t get a fair jury because of the #MeToo movement.
The request from Benjamin Biancofiori, who is alleged to have recruited women through a Facebook page promoting his gangster lifestyle, came in a recent motion from his attorney ahead of a trial scheduled to start Monday.
“In view of the extraordinary attention to and enflamed societal passion on the subject of male sexual misconduct, Mr. Biancofiori cannot hope to select a jury that is untainted by the veritable flood of reporting on the subject,” Andrea Gambino wrote, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The motion sought to tie Biancofiori’s case to sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood execs such as Harvey Weinstein and celebrities such as Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer, the newspaper added.
Biancofiori, 38, has been jailed without bond since being arrested in 2016 and faces up to life in prison if he is convicted on a variety of charges, including that he allegedly used death threats and beatings to force women into the sex trade.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber will hear the motion Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing court records. Gambino is pushing for more time to compose a questionnaire to identify jurors who have been a part of the #MeToo movement, which encourages people to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault.
Biancofiori’s legal team is also trying to keep prosecutors from using a 124-page handwritten manifesto on pimping that was taken from his apartment following his arrest in Colorado.
The document, written in an autobiographical style, lists what it takes to be a good pimp and details how Biancofiori was “makin’ money in no time” after traveling the country with women he trafficked, prosecutors said in a motion, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But Gambino said the manifesto is an “incomplete work of fiction” and is actually a “novel” based on some of Biancofiori’s life experiences, which he wrote during a stint in prison on a separate conviction.
“His audience was himself and a select group of his fellow prisoners,” Gambino wrote in her motion, according to the Chicago Tribune. “An individual’s unpublished manuscript, clearly intended to be a novel or other work of fiction, is the embodiment of an individual’s ‘private inner sanctum of individual feeling and thought.’"
At least three alleged victims are expected to testify Biancofiori ran a sex trafficking operation from his Naperville home, outside of Chicago, the newspaper also reported.
One of them, according to the charges, told police that Biancofiori frequently beat up another woman while dressed up like a boxer with mixed martial arts-type gloves.
Court filings also show two of the women he is alleged to have abused had romantic relationships with him, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Biancofiori is alleged to have waited in cars outside motel rooms and other locations where he took the women to meet clients for sex, and would sometimes pay them only in heroin, charges say.
He also appeared in photos on a Facebook page, posing alongside luxury cars and wearing high-end jewelry.
Biancofiori, a former gang member, was given a second chance two decades ago after getting a six month jail sentence when David Kinkley, a Wheaton teenager he robbed and beat, killed himself by walking in front of a train, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Kinkley’s parents pushed for leniency and the teen’s mother told the newspaper she cared about Biancofiori's future.
But court records viewed by the newspaper show Biancofiori was arrested numerous times following the case and spent 18 months in jail for a 2011 gun conviction. Prosecutors say the alleged sex trafficking operation started shortly after that.