Attorney requests a special prosecutor to investigate a sex-trafficker case

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COLUMBIA - Attorney Stephen Wyse wants Governor Mike Parson to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the relationship and alliance between sex-trafficker Barry Manthe and the Columbia Police Department.

“Those people who were engaged in criminality, who work in law enforcement, need to be held accountable for allowing this drug-dealing sex-trafficker to exploit young women,” Wyse said.

On March 4, Barry Manthe, 65, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison with three years of supervised probation. According to previous Columbia Missourian reporting, he pleaded guilty in federal court September 2018 to using the Internet to promote a prostitution business. Manthe was arrested in an FBI raid in March of 2017.

“Barry Manthe was a pimp in Boone County for decades,” Wyse said. “In 1998 he was indicted for promoting prostitution. For some reason, in 2003, that prosecution was dismissed, and Barry Manthe comes back to Boone County and sets up his drug-dealing and prostitution businesses.”

Wyse said then Manthe’s tense relationship with law enforcement became an alliance.

“Mathe had access to a lot of information, and he simply was protected from his criminality because he was giving up this information,” he said. “He was allowed to prostitute teenage girls, and hook them on drugs and keep them enslaved in his brothel.”

It is not the first time when Wyse has tried to request a special prosecutor for the case of Barry Manthe. In February, he contacted the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel K. Knight.

The prosecutor forwarded his response letter to KOMU.

“In Missouri, the standard practice is that police agencies, and not prosecutors, conduct initial investigations to determine if there is criminal activity,” said Knight in his letter to Wyse.

Knight also added that he is not aware of any wrongdoing by any staff at the Boone County Prosecutor's Office in connection with any matter related to Manthe.

Wyse said that he still can ask Governor Parson to appoint a special prosecutor for the case of Barry Manthe, although it will take longer.

In January, Citizens for Justice created a 25-part YouTube documentary series called "Police Protected Pimp," which alleges the Columbia Police Department knew about the operation.

Columbia Public Information Specialist, Steven Sapp, said that this matter remains under review.  

"It is our intent to be transparent and we will follow up with the community when our review is completed," he said. 

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