Sex Slave Keepers Enter Tearful Plea : Couple Accept Charges in Exchange for Reduced Prison Terms

Times Staff Writer

In a tearful Superior Court appearance, a transient couple accused of imprisoning a young Alaskan woman as a sex slave pleaded no contest to all counts against them after their attorneys reached a sentencing agreement with the judge.

Theodore and Mildred Glaum wept Monday as Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Wong read the list of charges and asked the couple if they agreed to waive their right to a jury trial. At one point during the proceedings, Theodore Glaum stood and said, "I'm not guilty." He added quickly, "I'm sorry, never mind."

The Glaums were arrested last March after police found Nickie Moeller, then 18, in emaciated condition in their motor home, which was parked outside an adult bookstore in Irwindale. Moeller later testified that she had been bound in chains, tortured, starved, beaten and sold as a prostitute during the nine months she spent with the Glaums as they traveled around Southern California.

Twelve counts were lodged against Theodore Glaum, 54, and nine against his 37-year-old wife. Both were charged with attempted murder by starvation, rape in concert, imposing involuntary sexual servitude, oral copulation by force, pimping and pandering. Theodore Glaum also was charged with sodomy.

Judge Sam Cianchetti said he intends on March 12 to sentence Theodore Glaum to 14 years in state prison, and Mildred Glaum to nine years.

"If they went to trial, they would have gotten more time"--as much as 20 years for Theodore Glaum and 15 years for Mildred Glaum, Wong said.

Although defense attorney Raymond Youngquist had spent several hours explaining the plea bargain arrangement to Theodore Glaum, the defendant appeared hesitant when the time came to make the plea. When Wong asked him if he understood the charges and the consequences of a no-contest plea, he replied, "What difference does it make?" He quickly apologized.

The legal effect of a no-contest plea is the same as a plea of guilty.

Cianchetti said he would recommend to the state Department of Corrections that Theodore Glaum be sent to the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, where psychological treatment is available.

The Glaums, who are kept in separate holding facilities, were allowed to spend several minutes together in a defendant's waiting room after making their pleas. Cianchetti granted their request for a 30-day postponement of sentencing, and Wong said they made the request so they could see each other once more before being sent to separate prisons.

Although the plea arrangement required the Glaums to plead no contest to all counts, Cianchetti said later that he believed the attempted murder charge was the weakest of those brought by the district attorney.

"There was nothing to indicate they were trying to kill her," Cianchetti said. Moeller, of Anchorage, testified that she had weighed 165 pounds when she met the Glaums after attending the US Festival of rock music in Devore in May, 1983, and weighed 80 pounds when she was found by police. But the fact of her starvation, Cianchetti said, was not enough to prove the Glaums' intent.

"Everybody (in the motor home) was in a similar situation," the judge said. "The Glaums themselves weren't exactly pictures of robust health."

Servitude Charge Weak

Youngquist said he felt the sexual servitude charge also was weak. "The picture given to the community was that of a gal snatched off the street," but Moeller testified that she had been a prostitute before meeting the Glaums, Youngquist said.

Wong said that while it was apparent from her testimony that Moeller had many opportunities to leave the Glaums and, at least initially, accompanied them voluntarily, her imprisonment was largely psychological.

Moeller testified that she asked Theodore Glaum in June, 1983, if she could go home. But she said he made vague verbal threats about people who would kill her if she tried to leave.

Soon after, Moeller testified, she was bound with ropes and chains. She said Glaum's tortures became increasingly severe as profits from her prostitution began to decline. Her lack of nutrition caused her to have difficulty walking, she testified, and loss of bladder control caused frequent bed-wetting episodes that angered Glaum.

Electrical Shocks

Moeller said Glaum used a wire connected to the motor home's battery to give her electrical shocks, attached clothespins and tweezers to portions of her body, tied her to cabinets with ropes, and forced her to submit to sexual intercourse while tied.

On the day police found her, she testified, Glaum had threatened to take her to San Gabriel Canyon, "so he could hang me from a tree and gut me and let the animals eat off me while I was still half alive."

Wong said Moeller has since returned to Anchorage to care for her 2-year-old daughter.

Defense attorneys said Theodore Glaum could be paroled in six years with good behavior, Mildred Glaum in four years. Both would be required to register with local police departments as sex offenders as long as they live in California.

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