Police: 2 charged in Wayland-based sex trafficking ring

Allegan County

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

WAYLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly two years after police raided a Wayland man’s home, he and a Grand Rapids woman face charges for allegedly running a prostitution ring.

Robert Henry Grigsby, 51, has been charged with one count of sex trafficking, two counts of accepting earnings from prostitution, two counts of transportation for prostitution and a count of conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise.

Vanessa Anne Phillips, 39, was charged with two counts of sex trafficking, two counts of accepting earnings of prostitution and a count of conspiracy to conduct a criminal enterprise.

The Wayland Police Department says that the pair were trafficking women out of Grigsby’s home in Wayland and elsewhere in the Grand Rapids area.

Wayland police started their investigation into Grigsby in October 2018. The following July, officers raided Grigsby’s home on Maple Street between Vine and Railroad streets. They said they found evidence of sex trafficking and drug use.

“I know how it looks,” Grigsby acknowledged to News 8 the day after the raid, but added that “nothing is going on.”

He said he couldn’t say much more because he was under investigation.

Rob Grigsby
24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker speaks with Rob Grisby two days after his home was raided by Wayland police. (July 3, 2019)

Police said in July 2019 they expected charges to be issued within the next few weeks. It’s unclear why it took so long for that to happen.

In a Friday release, the Wayland Police Chief Mark Garnsey said his department worked with the Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes state police, Allegan County sheriff’s deputies and the FBI. The charges were issued by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

Garnsey added in a statement that “at least one of these victims has taken the opportunity to turn their life completely around.”

Grigsby and Phillips are expected back in court April 8 for probable cause hearings.

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