1 of 2 suspects in Wayland sex trafficking ring ordered to trial

Allegan County

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — An Allegan County judge has decided there is enough evidence for a woman to stand trial for allegedly helping to run a sex trafficking ring out of Wayland.

Vanessa Phillips is charged with sex trafficking, accepting earnings from prostitution and conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise.

The charges stem from a two-year investigation that uncovered over 6,000 online ads linked to the prostitution ring and included a July 2019 raid of Phillips’ co-defendant Robert Grigsby’s home on W. Maple Street in Wayland, where the operation is believed to have been based.

During a Tuesday preliminary hearing, three of the sex trafficking victims testified about their time living and working at the Wayland house. The woman answered questions about the sex trafficking operation, including who got paid and how, as well as who set up the online ads and where drugs that were involved came from.

At least one woman claimed Phillips was the ringleader, while others felt Phillips was a trafficking victim herself and that Grigsby was the head of the operation.

But evidence from police, including Philips’ own words to investigators and during recorded conversations, was enough for the judge to order the case to trial.

“She mentioned calling them her (expletive) and that they were working for her, essentially. She did also mention that they were paying Rob,” Wayland Police Department Officer Mark Riemersma testified. “She (Phillips) mentioned making a lot of money. She did not give specifics but said that she was looking into buying a BMW because she was making so much money.”

March 2021 booking photos of Robert Grigsby and Vanessa Phillips from the Allegan County Jail.

Grigsby’s probable cause hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

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