Prominent GOP Donor Allegedly Offered Hush Money to Underage Girl in Sex Trafficking Case

A prominent GOP donor from Minnesota facing sex trafficking charges allegedly offered $1,000 in hush money to an underage girl and her parents to keep them quiet, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. Attorneys for Anton Lazzaro, who was identified as the donor, also asked the girl and her parents to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which the father refused to do, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, accuses Lazzaro of using his "power, wealth, influence, connections, and resources to recruit children ... so that he could prey on them."

"When it became clear that Lazzaro had committed serious crimes, he attempted to coerce his victims and their families into keeping silent," the suit said.

The girl and her parents are all listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, though none are named, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Child Sex Trafficking Awareness
A prominent GOP donor facing sex trafficking allegedly offered $1,000 in hush money to an underage girl and her parents to keep them quiet, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges. Signs on display as Cosmopolitan NYFW brings awareness against child sex trafficking at New Yorker Hotel on February 14, 2021 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images for Cosmopolitan NYFW

Lazzaro was charged in August with five counts of sex trafficking of minors, one count of attempted sex trafficking of a minor, one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and three counts of obstruction. His attorney has said he is being falsely accused and did not commit the crimes.

St. Thomas University student Gisela Castro Medina, 19, the former chairwoman of the school's Republican party chapter, also faces criminal charges for allegedly recruiting girls for Lazzaro.

According to the lawsuit, Lazzaro and Medina targeted young women or girls on social media and introduced them to Lazzaro to be used for sex in exchange for money and gifts.

The lawsuit says that in 2018, when the girl was about 14, she and Medina became friends. In May 2020, when the girl was 16, Medina recruited her to meet Lazzaro and began grooming her, explaining that he was a powerful, prominent and wealthy businessman and political figure.

From May to July 2020, Lazzaro arranged for cars to bring the girl to his home on several occasions, and he committed "multiple commercial sex acts" against her, the lawsuit says.

After months of repeated sex trafficking of the girl, Lazzaro attempted to coerce her to be silent. According to the lawsuit, Lazzaro's attorneys called the girl's father in July 2020 and offered the family hush money and a non-disclosure agreement. The attorney allegedly suggested that the girl was aggressively seeking to defame Lazzaro and Medina on social media.

The proposed non-disclosure agreement says Lazzaro and the girl had "a consensual interaction in the recent past," the lawsuit says. The proposed agreement offers $1,000, and in exchange the girl and her parents would agree not to publicly disparage Lazzaro or Medina. It also demanded that they "not disclose the nature of the prior interaction with Mr. Lazarro to the public" so he could continue his sex trafficking enterprise, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, saying that as a result of the sexual abuse, the girl has suffered and will continue to suffer pain, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, sexual confusion and other issues.

Lazzaro has connections to prominent Republicans in Minnesota, and pictures on his Facebook and Twitter accounts show him with prominent party leaders nationwide, including former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

He is also close friends with the embattled leader of the Minnesota Republican Party, Jennifer Carnahan. News of the charges against Lazzaro increased calls for her to resign from her post, which she did after initially resisting. She has said she had no knowledge of the allegations against Lazzaro.

Minnesota Republican Party Leader Jennifer Carnahan
Minnesota Republican Party leader Jennifer Carnahan resigned last month in the wake of the news of child sex trafficking charges filed against a prominent Minnesota GOP donor. Carnahan looks on during the national anthem during a rally for President Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images