AUBURN — A Lewiston woman pleaded guilty to sex trafficking just minutes before the start of her trial Wednesday.

Tina Lagasse, 52, of 527 Main St. is expected to be sentenced on the Class D misdemeanor next month. Maximum punishment for the crime is 364 days in jail.

Lagasse is free on her personal recognizance, but is barred from having contact with two witnesses in the case, one of whom is identified as the victim.

Lagasse’s attorney, Paul Corey, told the judge that a jury could have found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on the facts that prosecutors were prepared to present as evidence at trial.

Tina Lagasse Photo courtesy of the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Office

The case stems from an internet advertisement for prostitution that was noticed by an Auburn police detective last summer. The image showed Lagasse with a young woman who was later identified as a former Auburn high school student.

According to a police report, a Westbrook Police Department sergeant posed as a customer, texting the phone number on the ad; Lagasse answered. She texted back that the younger woman pictured with her was 17 years old and that “I don’t sell children.”

The officer called back and made an appointment with Lagasse for paid sex. She gave him her home address.

Three officers arrived at her home and questioned her about the ad and the teenager pictured in it, police said.

Lagasse told them she met the teen near Poirier’s Market on Walnut Street early on the morning of July 29. The girl was selling herself on the street and Lagasse befriended the teen and told her there was “a better way to make money.”

An Auburn high school principal told police the victim had been a student.

A subpoena for the online advertisement showed the ad had been posted after the victim’s 18th birthday.

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