‘Quartet of darkness’ sentenced for trafficking and sexual assault of a child

Somerville, New Jersey: On Friday, May 6, four individuals were sentenced for what prosecutors called a "family-owned transgender phonography production studio specializing in amateur, BDSM and taboo fetish content." Some of the content produced involved the sexual assault of a 7-year-old child, the daughter of one of the defendants.

 

"They are incapable of redemption," Assistant Somerset County Prosecutor Brian Stack said, adding that it was "difficult to find the words" the describe the crimes which took place.

 

The father of the child, now known as 32-year-old Marina Volz whose original name was Matthew, is said to have traveled to the West Coast in December 2018 in order to assume custody of the child for the express purpose of returning the child to New Jersey to be sexually assaulted.

 

Once the child was in New Jersey, 28-year-old Ashley D. Romero, whose original name was Adam, and 54-year-old Sean Allen both sexually assaulted the child. The assaults were recorded and footage was recovered from multiple electronic devices within the home.

 

The fourth individual involved, 21-year-old Dulcinea Gnecco was accused of endangering the welfare of the child through participation in filming.

 

Judge Peter J. Tober sentenced Volz to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Romero was also sentenced to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Allen was sentenced to 12 years in prison and will be eligible for parole after 10 years. Gnecco was sentenced to five years in prison.

 

Following release, Volz and Romero will be required to register as sex offenders for the remainder of their lives and be subject to parole supervision.

 

"If this was not heinous, cruel and depraved," Tober said, then "I don't know what is." While not disclosing the specifics of the abuse, he did disclose that it involved neck collars, a cage in the basement, sex tory and other devices.

 

He said that together, the quartet orchestrated a "vortex of darkness" that "snuffed out" the innocence of the child. Because they had not "accepted full responsibility" for their actions, he deemed them to be "incapable of redemption."

 

"There is no hope that they will emerge from incarceration as better people because they are not capable," Stack was quoted by NJ.com as saying at the sentencing. "They're bad people."

 

Volz's defense attorney, Antony Cowell said, "I can't wrap my head around what happened in this case." The evidence contained "some of the worst images I have ever seen in my life."  He went on to say that his client though is, "not a monster. She's not an animal." Volz had no previous criminal history and had served in the U.S. Army for three or four years.

 

Tober acknowledged that Volz had suffered sexual abuse as a child and had a history o mental health issues including several suicide attempts.

 

An anonymous phone call to the New Jersey Child Abuse hotline is credited with initiating the investigation in January 2019. On the night that the call came in, investigators went to the home in Franklin Township and removed the child from the home.

 

The following day, investigators with the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit interviewed the child. A search warrant for the home was then obtained and executed which resulted in more than 30 computers, cameras and digital storage devices being recovered.

 

On May 29, 2019 Volz, Romero, Allen and Gnecco were all arrested. They have remained in the Somerset County Jail since.

 

On November 16, 2022, the defendants plead guilty to the following charges:

 

Volz plead guilty to ten counts which included first-degree human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking, first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child by creating child pornography, second-degree conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child by creating child pornography, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in conduct that would impair or debauch the child, first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in conduct that would impair or debauch the child and fourth-degree possession of a high capacity ammunition magazine.

 

As a part of the guilty plea, Volz admitted that the child was brought to New Jersey for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. Volz admitted also to sexually abusing the child individually and jointly with Romero and to filming the abuse. Volz has surrendered all parental rights to the child who has now been adopted by family members.

 

Romero plead guilty to nine counts including first-degree human trafficking, first-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking, first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child by creating child pornography, second-degree conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child by creating child pornography, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in conduct that would impair or debauch the child, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child by creating child pornography and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by possessing child phonography.

 

Allen plead guilty to first-degree human trafficking, first-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking, first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second degree conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child by creating child pornography.

 

Gnecco plead guilty to second degree endangering the welfare of a child and third degree endangering the welfare of a child.

 

In the statement posted to Facebook by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, Acting Prosecutor Taggart drew special attention to the anonymous tip called in to the New Jersey Child Abuse Hotline. Without that call "this investigation and the rescue of the seven year-old child would not have occurred." He encouraged anyone that has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse to call 1-877-NJ ABUSED (1-877-652-2873). The hotline is in operation 24/7.