AUBURN — An alleged victim of aggravated sex trafficking, who was slated to testify against her fiance at trial starting Tuesday, was reported dead Monday morning, a prosecutor said.

Martin Gerding of Lewiston, left, attends his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston in October 2018 on a charge of aggravated sex trafficking. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

Martin Gerding, 36, of 153 Horton St., Lewiston, was scheduled for trial at Androscoggin County Superior Court on the Class B felony, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. His 38-year-old fiancee was expected to testify against him. The charge will be dismissed, Assistant District Attorney Nathan Walsh said.

Walsh said he was told by a Maine State Police investigator Monday morning that the woman’s body was found in Oxford County. Investigators planned to work with the Maine Office of the Chief Medical examiner to determine the cause of death, Walsh said.

Walsh said prosecutors will re-evaluate the underlying evidence in the case before deciding whether to move forward on any related charge or charges, he said.

Gerding has been held at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn in lieu of $500 cash bail, a jail supervisor said.

Four Class C felony charges of violating bail are expected to go forward, Walsh said. They stem from Gerding’s alleged contact with the victim while he was awaiting trial. Each of those charges is punishable by up to five years in prison.

A trial is scheduled for May.

Police wrote in an affidavit that Gerding had boasted to an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute in downtown Lewiston one night in September that he provided protection for some of the prostitutes in the area. He said he had two “girls” working the streets. He said he wasn’t afraid to get physical with some or “put a gun in someone,” according to the affidavit.

He provided tips to the undercover officer how to work the “Johns” and how to avoid going to jail, police said. The conversation was recorded on the officer’s cellphone.

Police had been conducting a sting operation targeting customers who engaged prostitutes in an effort to crack down on human and sex trafficking.

Police said a local woman who admitted to working as a prostitute told an officer last year that she made money on the street for herself and Gerding, the man to whom she was engaged to marry. They used the money to support their drug habits, she had said.

Four days after Gerding had approached the undercover officer, the woman who claimed to be his fiancee was working on the street in a location where Gerding could watch her. She was later brought to the police station where she spoke with an advocate for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Afterward, she told police that she met Gerding on the streets after getting involved in drugs and losing custody of her children. After she moved in with him, he “convinced her to start prostituting to pay for their drug habit,” according to the police affidavit.

Gerding had set up the rules she had to follow, including pricing for sex acts and would “get mad at her if she came back with anything less than $20,” she told police. He also set time limits on the length of the “dates.”

He would buy drugs with the proceeds that they would both use, she said.

During another interview with police, the woman said Gerding sometimes physically assaulted her when she refused to turn over the money she had earned as a prostitute. Once in July, after being paid $20, Gerding had “pushed her to the ground, injuring her knee, when he tried to take the money from her.” After that, she was afraid to refuse to engage in prostitution, she told police.

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