Trial opens for school board member accused of pimping
The young woman on the witness stand said Mike Rios approached her on the street with a school district business card in his hand and a job opportunity on his mind: He wanted her “to gather girls and sell them," she said.
The young woman, identified in court only as Valery, testified Wednesday that she and others worked as prostitutes for Rios, a member of the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education.
Valery’s testimony came on the opening day of Rios’ trial in Riverside County Superior Court. He faces felony charges, including rape, pandering and pimping of six females, including two underage girls.
Valery, 21, with long black hair and bangs covering her forehead, bit her lip between questions, and her face was somber. In addition to working as a prostitute for Rios, she said she helped recruit other young women for him.
"He told me we had to get the best-looking girls so we could get more money for them," Valery said.
Prosecutors allege Rios ran a prostitution ring out of his Moreno Valley home. In opening statements, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Brusselback told the jury: "This is a case about greed. This is a case about money. This is a case about power."
Rios's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael J. Micallef, told jurors Rios ran a business involving women stripping, dancing and performing for money but that it "had nothing to do with sex."
The women were free to do whatever they wanted "to satisfy their greed," and what they did besides stripping and dancing "wasn't necessarily known to Mr. Rios," Micallef said.
— Hailey Branson-Potts in Riverside
Photo: Mike Rios. Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department