MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin veterinarian is facing sex trafficking charges after a weeks-long investigation in Minnesota.
Brian Kersten, 60, of Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin is facing one charge of engaging in the sex trafficking of an individual.
According to court documents, the charges stem from an incident at the Extended Stay America hotel in Woodbury, Minnesota. Prosecutors say authorities found an Chinese woman, “S.L.,” at the hotel as a result of a sting from online advertisements for “massages” on a website known for connections to sex trafficking.
Investigators say the woman spoke little English, but said she was flown from Georgia after being offered a job at a massage salon in the Twin Cities area. When she found out she would be giving the “massages” in a hotel, she was upset and wanted to leave.
According to the criminal complaint, she told investigators a Caucasian man and a Chinese woman picked her up from the airport and drove her to the hotel. She and hotel employees later identified the Caucasian man as Kersten — a veterinarian in Baldwin, Wisconsin. Police also discovered airport video footage of “S.L.” meeting Kersten and the Chinese woman accused of running the sex trafficking operations — Shixin Zhang.
Authorities later found evidence that Kersten helped transport women to hotels and collect money for Zhang. Another witness told investigators Kersten first met Zhang as a “john,” and paid her for sex on multiple occasions. Police also discovered Kersten made several large money transfers to accounts China — between $10,000 and $20,000.
Police say one of Kersten’s family members also contacted law enforcement in Wisconsin, having heard he was helping traffic Chinese women in the Twin Cities area.
If convicted, Kersten could face up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.