The lawsuit alleges that Anton Lazzaro used his money and political connections to groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
A lawsuit alleges that Minnesota Republican Party donor Anton Lazzaro used a combination of wealth and political influence to coerce a 16-year-old girl into having sex with him.
Lazzaro, says the lawsuit, then tried to pay the girl’s family to prevent them from reporting him.
According to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the lawsuit was announced Tuesday by St. Paul-based attorney Jeff Anderson.
Anderson, adds the Star-Tribune, previously made headlines for filing sex abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church.
In his latest complaint, Anderson claimed that Lazzaro, 30, is an “audacious” predator who served as the “ringmaster” of a sex-trafficking enterprise. His client had earlier posted about Lazzaro on social media, claiming that the G.O.P. donor had tried paying her and her family $1,000 in “hush money.” They were pressured to both accept the payment and sign a nondisclosure agreement.
But instead of acquiescing to Lazzaro’s alleged demands, the 16-year-old and her family contacted Anderson.
“How many more are there out there that have been silenced and intimidated?” Anderson asked in a Tuesday press conference. “It’s really scary what they did and tried to do there.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that Anderson’s client is not alone in her allegations. Lazzaro is currently being held in jail, after the federal government unveiled a 10-count indictment.
The indictment suggests that Lazzaro paid underage girls for sex. He allegedly groomed them and gave them cash, as well as varied presents, including Prada purses, alcohol, vape devices, and cell phones.
The lawsuit observes that Lazzaro was well-known for flaunting both his wealth and political connections.
“Lazzaro often flaunted his wealth and high-powered political connections to the public and on social media,” the complaint states. “For example, Lazzaro posted pictures of himself carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash, sitting atop a private jet, and driving in his Ferrari. Lazzaro’s image could be found online next to several noteworthy politicians, political figures, and prominent members of the media.”
The Republican donor used both his status and personal funds to solicit a 19-year-old woman, Gisela Medina, to recruit underage girls for “his perverse and predatory pleasure.”
Medina, adds the lawsuit, was compensated with money and gifts; she is being charged as a co-conspirator in the federal case against Lazzaro.
Anderson says that Lazzaro’s misconduct inflicted psychological trauma on his client and her family, who will “continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy and counseling.”
Stacy Benson, an attorney with Anderson’s firm, said that Lazzaro and Medina robbed their client of her mental and physical freedom.
“Tony Lazzaro and Gisela Medina — they stole her freedom for profit,” Benson said. “And hopefully through this process, [she] can get and recover the power and the control that was stolen from her as a child.”