A sadistic pimp who ran a bizarre, cult-like harem of prostitutes modeled on a film of the French novel The Story of O faces a lifetime in prison after being convicted July 17 on 105 felony counts, involving sex with minors, pandering, and child prostitution.
Prosecutors say 60-year-old Anthony Greg Gehon recruited teenage girls — in one case, his 16-year-old niece — and trained them in sadomasochistic sex, forcing them into a life of prostitution and pornography.
At least seven victims were set up in houses across Phoenix, working for a business called Capricious Escorts. In some cases, the women and girls were made to have sex with up to four or five johns a day, according to court records.
The women also regularly were beaten with riding crops, burned with cigarettes, bound and gagged, and made to fulfill Gehon's perverse fantasies.
Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb described how Gehon's victims were virtual sex slaves, and like characters in the 1954 erotic novel by Pauline Reage (a pseudonym for French writer Anne Desclos), were made to wear special rings indicating Gehon's ownership of them and sometimes were branded or tattooed with special marks.
"Gehon based his whole operation on The Story of O," Cobb told me. "He had these kind of `house rules' for the women that he kept. They were forced to perform at the will of the men and could never wear underwear, never cross their legs, lots of weird stuff."
Court records show that Gehon forced minor girls under his control to watch adult videos featuring the porn star Belladonna, as well as the porn series Taboo to learn about bondage, S&M, and other unusual sex practices.
In turn, Gehon would videotape his victims in sex acts for use in potential blackmail, often surreptitiously.
Gehon's operation came to an end in 2010, when the sister of his underage niece contacted Phoenix police, informing them that Gehon was forcing the girl to prostitute herself.
The girl was found living with Gehon at a home near 26th and Willetta streets, one of Gehon's many residences.
In the Phoenix Police Department's probable cause statement for Gehon's arrest, the victim explained to investigators that when she was 15 and living with her grandmother in northeast Arizona, Gehon persuaded the grandmother to let the girl live with him in Phoenix.
From her first day staying with her uncle, she was made to sleep naked with him and have sex with him on a daily basis.
"She described how he chained her ankles and arms up and used a ball gag in her mouth [before having sex with her]," according to the probable cause statement.
The girl told how Gehon would have sex with her as his ex-wife lay in the bed naked watching them. The ex-wife was also forced into prostitution by Gehon, according to the girl.
"The defendant gave her acid on one occasion and then made her watch adult pornography," says the probable cause statement. "[Gehon] told her she needed to watch the porn so she could get trained."
The victim said Gehon made her get a tattoo and told her that "this tattoo represents his ownership of her."
He also gave her "a ring she had to wear on her middle finger that represents ownership."
These acts echo the plot of the book, which was made into a softcore porn film of the same name in 1975 by French director Just Jaeckin, who also directed such erotic film classics as Emmanuelle and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
But there was nothing literary about Gehon. Rather, he was a brutal manipulator, according to prosecutors, who forced his victims to engage in painful, humiliating sex acts for his amusement and profit.
On July 9, 2010, Gehon was arrested and charged with two dozen counts of sex crimes, such as child prostitution and sexual conduct with a minor, according to the County Attorney's Office.
Police eventually found six more victims, including another minor, of whom Gehon was the legal guardian.
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As a result, prosecutors quintupled the charges against Gehon.
Cobb said the trial lasted 99 days, involved 50 witnesses, and used more than 1,000 exhibits. After five days of deliberation, the jury found Gehon guilty on 105 counts.
"There are so many counts, that he's looking at an effective life sentence," Cobb said.
Gehon is scheduled to be sentenced October 23.