Control Tower

Consensual BDSM Perverted by Missouri Miserymongers

Five men from Missouri are learning exactly what it feels like to be controlled against your wishes by someone more powerful than you, and it's doubtful they like it. They've been arrested by the FBI on charges of assaulting a woman whom the media calls the "sex slave" of one Edward Bagley Sr. The disturbing indictment states the victim was a 16-year-old runaway from a foster home when she met Bagley, and that he persuaded her to come live with him. When she turned 18, he had her sign a "slave contract" and told her she was his legal property. He then allegedly engaged in acts described by the FBI as torture, and had the four other men pay him to also engage in these acts with her. He also forced her to work as a porn model and stripper, and to surrender the money to him.

I'm aware that the FBI could describe my sex life in ways that sound pretty bad, too, so I'm trying to remain open-minded about this case. I hope the allegations prove to be 100 percent unfounded. But I doubt they will, because even the most generous interpretation of the events stinks of abuse. Even absent any physical violence, it is morally reprehensible to offer a homeless child shelter and then begin grooming her to be your sexual partner.

This looks very much like the culture of consensual BDSM being hijacked and distorted by evil people to abuse others. The female victim—who has been described as "mentally deficient"—came to the attention of authorities when she wound up in the emergency room in cardiac arrest after being electrocuted, allegedly by Bagley. If the man known as "Master Ed" did threaten and deceive an isolated, vulnerable teenager into believing she was truly a slave, and that she had no right to leave him or refuse any harm he (or anyone else) did to her, then he is utterly despicable, and I look forward to seeing him get the justice he deserves.

Unfortunately, the disgust and anger such cases rightly inspire can create confusion, shame, and silence in people curious about consensual BDSM—which makes them all the more vulnerable to predators. If you're a young person or someone unfamiliar with American law, understand this clearly: You and your partner can create whatever relationship you want. But you always have the right to withdraw your consent to any activity, at any time, for any reason. There is absolutely no U.S. law, civil or criminal, that supports one person becoming the legal slave of another person. It doesn't matter what words you say or what documents you sign: A private individual cannot legally own you as a slave or hold you in "indentured servitude." All that was abolished by the 13th Amendment, and there's only one exception: people who've been convicted of a crime. That might prove an ironic twist of fate for those five men. recommended


Comments (9) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Ugh, I googled this case after reading about it on your blog. Lots of journalists trying to sound smart and psychology savvy by throwing around the word BDSM. This is just sexual abuse, there is literally no relation.
Posted by Cait3571 on October 6, 2010 at 2:47 PM · Report this
Stupid media, fact-checking is no longer de rigeur today. Apparently, they can't get that BDSM involves consent. This type of abuse is clearly non-consensual, the poor kid wasn't even in the position to give consent in the first place. Anyone who doesn't get the difference is no better than those abusing fuckturds.
Posted by staringatthesun on October 7, 2010 at 1:46 AM · Report this
@2 you're asking for a lot of subtle analysis and nuanced reporting--not likely in a sensational case like this.

All the trappings of BDSM are there, including a "slave contract". I don't think your average editor is going to break it down when they need a headline in the next 5 minutes.

Don't be surprised if "Master Ed" claims she consented as his defense. His attorneys may even try to use the contract as proof. Fortunately, I don't think a jury is likely to buy it.
Posted by Westside forever on October 7, 2010 at 10:51 AM · Report this
So, a 16 year old, regardless of her economic setting, is not allowed to consent to having sex with an adult (over 18 male or female)? That's the ONLY thing in this case that is almost certainly illegal. Of course, what are the odds that Matisse had consensual sex with an adult male (or female) when she was 16 or younger? I'd say close to 100%. The point is that no one knows what was consensual in this case and what wasn't. Surely the "tortures" listed in the indictment have all been done either by Matisse or people close to her, and they probably don't consider themselves criminals. Lots of doms (and dommes) "loan" their slaves out to others, and lots of submissives get paid for their services (and for sex). Maybe Bagley is a complete asshole and an idiot, but so are lots of people into bdsm, that doesn't make them criminals.
Posted by olderwithmoreinsurance on October 9, 2010 at 7:21 AM · Report this
echizen_kurage 5

I can only assume that you're defending Bagley because you don't know the details of this case.

[Statutory rape] is the ONLY thing in this case that is almost certainly illegal.

Now, I'm no lawyer, but I'm reasonably certain that it's illegal to threaten to kill somebody, especially when you also kill their pets to get your point across. And I'm willing to bet that there's some sort of law against forcibly performing home abortions on a woman with a coat hanger. Oh, and suffocating and electrocuting somebody until they go into cardiac arrest (which is how this case came to the attention of the authorities in the first place)? Also not legal.

When an evening of kinky fun ends with someone being airlifted to the hospital, "s/he consented" is not a get out of jail free card, even if it happens to be true. (And in this case, it probably isn't true. Bagley's victim apparently genuinely believed that she was Bagley's legal property. Moreover, she tried to use her safeword, and he ignored her.)
Posted by echizen_kurage on October 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 6
@4: The combination of the age differential and the desperate nature of homelessness is what removes the possibility of informed consent in my mind. A homeless, 16 year old, "mentally deficient" woman isn't someone who has a level of personal or social power that allows for freely-consenting power exchange.

Also, I'm fairly sure that Matisse hasn't performed abortions on anyone. She seems to allow her clients to use doctors.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on October 9, 2010 at 10:40 AM · Report this
@4 If she's mentally impaired and was homeless kid when Bagley found her, this girl isn't capable of legal consent. Probably some Stockholm syndrone going on too. Either the man is also too not-smart to understand that or else he's just a POS preying on a homeless girl.
Posted by Larkshead on October 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Posted by emms on October 15, 2010 at 5:34 PM · Report this
I've been reading a little on narcissism. And it might be present here in a bad form of it. A 16 year old no matter how mature they think they are still needs some positive life experiences. Treat the pimp here as a level 3 sexual predator and get that message out to people. With drugs and alcohol I expect poor choices, but then it is the community job to clear the air and give a restart. Stabilize the kid over 2 years and see what she really thinks.
Posted by jd2 on January 17, 2013 at 9:24 PM · Report this

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