9 Investigates

‘You’re a monster’: Lawsuit filed against attorney accused of sexually abusing 4 women

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Central Florida attorney who is facing life in prison, accused of abusing his power and running a human trafficking operation out of his law firm, is now being sued by four women who claim he sexually abused or sold them for sex.

One of those plaintiffs spoke exclusively to 9 Investigates. As Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray found out, this comes as the man’s criminal case is moving forward again after a previous delay.


John Gillespie was deemed incompetent to stand trial, but a new court filing shows he is now able to face the charges of racketeering and human trafficking brought against him by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office. He’s now scheduled to face trial next month.

In his Orange County jail mug shot, Gillespie looks like a ghost of his headshot featured on the Florida Bar website. The attorney is accused criminally, and now in federal civil court, of using his status to ”lure, recruit and entice young girls and women to engage in commercial sex acts… and to commit sexual batteries upon these girls and women” across the course of nearly 20 years.

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“For 20 years, I’ve prayed and prayed that this man gets caught,” Edmee Martinez said. She, alongside three Jane Does, is suing the lawyer.

The suit claims that in 2003, as a troubled teen, she was recruited by Gillespie’s legal assistant to be an exotic dancer, and that she was then sexually battered by Gillespie inside his Kissimmee law office.

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“I didn’t think it was going to go to the extent it went to, and I just honestly thought I’m going to dance for this man,” Martinez said. “Being that he was a man of the law, I thought he’d be more respectable than the men in the clubs.”

That’s just part of the claims against him. The suit lays out accusations that Gillespie “instilled a belief in his clients that he wielded the power of the courts, was untouchable, and would use the legal system to harm plaintiffs if they turned against him.”

The suit also accuses him of using his legal practice to meet girls arrested for prostitution and offering the ability to “work off” the legal fees through sex acts, and using drug addiction to ensure compliance.

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“What makes him so unique is that he was in such a position of power, he had such an ability to do good in this world, and he used that to do quite the opposite,” attorney Lisa Haba said.

While his criminal case has kept him off the street, and could send him to prison for the rest of his life, the civil case could bring some relief to a few of the women who say their lives were forever changed.

“At the end of the day, to me, you’re a monster,” Martinez said. “I hope that whatever you get, that you have coming to you, justice is served.”

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.