AG Nessel partners with Wayland Police Department to bring Human Trafficking charges against two individuals

Contact: Kelly Rossman-McKinney 517-512-9342
Agency: Attorney General

March 26, 2021

LANSING - Two individuals from the Grand Rapids area were arraigned on charges related to human trafficking, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. 

Robert Henry Grigsby, 51, of Wayland, and Vanessa Anne Phillips, 39, of Grand Rapids, allegedly conducted a criminal enterprise comprised of prostitution and sex trafficking of numerous women in Grigsby's home in Wayland, and other locations throughout the greater Grand Rapids area. 

Grigsby was arraigned in the 57th District Court in Allegan County.  Grigsby is charged with: 

  • One count of Forced Labor/Commercial Sex (Sex Trafficking), a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; 
  • Two counts of Accepting Earnings of Prostitution, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; 
  • Two counts of Transportation for Prostitution, a 20-year felony; 
  • One count of Conspiracy to Conduct a Criminal Enterprise, a 20-year felony. 

Phillips was also arraigned in the 57th District Court in Allegan County.  Phillips is charged with: 

  • Two counts of Forced Labor/Commercial Sex (Sex Trafficking), a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison;  
  • Two counts of Accepting Earnings of Prostitution, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; and, 
  • One count of Conspiracy to Conduct a Criminal Enterprise, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 

"Those who seek to exploit vulnerable individuals are willing to set up shop anywhere.  The dedicated officers of the Wayland Police Department knew that when they initiated and pursued their investigation," said Nessel.  "Our partnerships with local law enforcement agencies like the Wayland Police Department make it possible to pursue these predators wherever they are operating in Michigan."  

The investigation was initiated by the Wayland Police Department, which recognized the nature and scope of the alleged activities after receiving training on human trafficking.  Wayland Police began an investigation into a human trafficking operation being conducted out of a Wayland residence in October 2018.  The investigation uncovered evidence of commercial sexual activity and transporting women for illegal activities from which the accused allegedly profited.  

"Thankfully crimes like this do not occur in Wayland very often.  However, the Wayland Police are fortunate to have experienced officers and investigators who are up to the task," said Chief Mark Garnsey.  "The Wayland Police would like to thank the Attorney General's Office for the time given to this case, and their relentless persistence in helping us bring two human traffickers to justice. 

"The Wayland Police wish to thank the Human Trafficking Task Force consisting of the Michigan State Police and the FBI.  I would also like to add that at least one of these victims has taken the opportunity to turn her life completely around.  The fact that we were involved in positively impacting the lives of others, and rescuing them is something we are very proud of," added Garnsey. 

Since 2011, the Department of the Attorney General has provided training to more than 1,000 professionals and filed charges against more than 30 individuals for human trafficking - all leading to arrests. It has successfully convicted 24, with cases against several additional defendants currently pending.  The department is also home to the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission which works to direct state policy on human trafficking.   

### 

Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Attorney General's office does not provide photos of defendants, but one may be available from the booking agency, Wayland Police Department.