A Springfield man pleaded guilty Monday to sex trafficking young women in Central Illinois.
Francis Stapleton, 47, pleaded guilty to four sex trafficking charges in federal court in Peoria. He faces between 15 years and life in prison on those counts when he is sentenced in January 2021.
Stapleton recruited women from Peoria, Champaign, and Sangamon counties, often using their drug addictions or homelessness as leverage, prosecutors said. He allegedly supplied women with drugs and threatened to plunge them into withdrawal if they didn’t cooperate.
Prosecutors said Stapleton advertised through BackPage, a now-defunct website shut down by the FBI in 2018.
Stapleton also pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy, and use of a facility for interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.