Terrance Edwards, accused of trafficking women and children in Montana for prostitution, testified in his own defense on Monday, claiming that he’s an entrepreneur, former firefighter, and a romantic - but not a pimp.
Edwards, 35 years old, is charged in U.S. District Court in Billings with 10 prostitution-related charges.
Edwards testified for more than six hours Monday during his sixth day of trial.
“We were hustle buddies,” Edwards testified about his relationship with one woman, who claimed Edwards kidnapped her and forced her into prostitution. “Two people running around together making money.”
Prosecutors allege Edwards trafficked three women for commercial sex work in Montana and surrounding states and transported three teenage girls to Billings with the same intent.
But Edwards said Monday he never directed anyone to have sex for money and argued that the women who claim they did work as prostitutes did so without his knowledge.
Edwards testified that the women who worked for him through his business “Dreams United Modeling and Entertainment” asked him to help them make money.
Edwards admitted that he wrote the ads for Backpage.com and helped the women post the ads.
The defense attorney asked Edwards about the ads promise that the woman would carry out the customer's every desire.
“It’s like Burger King," said Edwards. “The customer is always right but not at the expense of your self-respect.”
Some messages to Edwards refer to him as “pimp,” which Edwards shrugged off as a playful word meaning “cool.”
“It’s a slang term,” said Edwards. “Sometimes it’s an acronym, like Positive Influence on My People. It doesn’t mean the dude’s actually prostituting women for money.”
Edwards described for the jury the many books he reads on “metaphysics” and said he read books about power and attraction out of curiosity, not to learn how to manipulate women.
Throughout his testimony, Edwards described the escort company as just one of the many “legitimate” ways he worked to earn an honest income.
The jury was shown photos of Edwards as a wildland firefighter, photos of handbags he made while serving his last prison term, and check stubs from a furniture moving service he was employed through.
Edwards claimed the three teenage girls he transported from North Dakota to Billings in the middle of the night were to work as models for his handbag company.
Edwards said one girl’s testimony that she never saw a handbag was a lie.
Prosecutors have yet to question Edwards directly about the case.
Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday.