‘He broke me’ — Woman speaks on sex trafficking suspect’s arrest

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 20:17:19-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. -- Life is so much better for Barb Gillespie today, but she said she's still living with the nightmares of Richardo Urbina. She said Urbina trafficked her more than 30 years ago.

"He destroyed my life," Gillespie said.

Urbina is now locked up on federal charges. He was arrested in November for allegedly sex trafficking three teenage girls and giving them cocaine. Authorities said the 'commercial sex acts' took place in Kent and Muskegon counties throughout summer 2017.

"When I saw him on the news I was like, 'Oh my God. After all these years he's still doing that?' You know, I was 16 [years old] 34 years ago,'" Gillespie recalled.

She said another girl introduced her to Urbina and that he took advantage of her having a strained relationship with her parents. Gillespie said Urbina turned her into a sex worker.

"He was very charming, charismatic, very nice looking," she described.

Gillespie says he initially treated her "like trying to be my boyfriend, you know, rather than a pimp."

She recalled, "There was probably five of us at one time living in the house as prostitutes. It was like everybody can drink all day and get dressed up all nice and then put you out on Division and turning tricks."

But Gillespie found life on the streets only sent hers into a downward spiral. She said she was raped multiple times, started using drugs and was arrested several times for prostitution.

"I have nightmares [and] PTSD bad. Sometimes when I go into certain neighborhoods, ya know, it's like bringing up memories," she explained.

Gillespie said she even lost her two older children.

She said, "My one son, he's in prison in Colorado, serving life for murder and I think if I wouldn't have been on the streets or on drugs that wouldn't have happened to him."

She said it's her own nearly three-year prison sentence that gave her a wake-up call.

"Turned my life around, bought my house, had my family, worked, went to college," Gillespie said.

After more than two decades on the outside, she said she's never looked back. While she resents how gullible and vulnerable she was at 16, she's hoping her mistakes might help others avoid the same path.

"Parents have got to be more involved in children's lives," Gillespie said. "Don't push 'em away. Don't push 'em away."

She said March 23 will mark 23 years that she's been out of prison. Stay with FOX 17 as Urbina's case progresses through federal court.