The Potluck

GOP donor, accused sex trafficker Anton Lazzaro faces civil lawsuit

By: - September 7, 2021 12:28 pm

Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Stacey Benson filed a civil lawsuit against Anton Lazzaro, the accused sex trafficker and GOP donor. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer

Anton Lazzaro, the GOP donor and strategist accused of sex trafficking young girls, now faces a civil lawsuit from the family of one of the alleged victims. 

Jeff Anderson and Stacey Benson, attorneys for the minor — identified as Jane Doe 1 in the suit —say Lazzaro trafficked the young girl when she was 16 and later attempted to silence her by forcing her family to sign a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for $1,000. 

The July 2020 non-disclosure agreement included language that Lazzaro and Jane Doe 1 had a “consensual interaction in the recent past,” according to a copy of the document the attorneys shared with reporters. The girl had posted on social media about the trafficking, prompting an aggressive response from Lazzaro and his attorneys. 

Lazzaro’s arrest has roiled Minnesota Republican politics in recent weeks. He was close to former GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan, who resigned a week after his arrest. Republicans and the party have scrambled to return his donations, which totaled $300,000 in recent years 

“Lazzaro is so audacious and believes he has so much control over this youth and her parents and all those around him that he admits in this document seeking silence… criminal sexual conduct,” Anderson said during a news conference in downtown St. Paul. 

Lazzaro faces several counts of sex trafficking and obstruction. He was arrested last month and ordered to remain detained at Sherburne County Jail until his trial, scheduled for Oct. 18. 

Lazzaro, 30, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. 

According to the lawsuit, Lazzaro and his alleged co-conspirator Gisela Medina Castro began grooming the minor when she was 16. Medina Castro had befriended the girl when she was 14. Medina Castro had been chair of a local College Republicans group upon her arrest.

Anderson said the victim’s family went to police, which ultimately triggered the criminal investigation. 

The attorney who attempted to execute the non-disclosure agreements with the girl’s family is Dan Adkins, whose firm, North Star Criminal Defense, boasts of its aggressive tactics, saying they are “not always Minnesota Nice.”

Adkins did not immediately return a request for comment.

The suit is seeking unspecified damages but says the girl suffered “great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and psychological injuries, sexual confusion, depression,” according to the lawsuit.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.