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Type of document: News
Topic: Law enforcement
Geographic descriptors: United States of America
Language: English
Source: www.postchronicle.com/commentary/article_2122116.shtml#continue
Date of publication: 18 December 2005
Long Abstract: Innocence Lost: Feds Nail Child Prostitution Ring Members

by Jim Kouri

Dec 18, 2005

Federal agents claimed a decisive victory over those who exploit children through prostitution and pornography in one of the biggest child abuse cases ever.

In one of the largest coordinated enforcement actions undertaken against child prostitution rings in the US, 19 suspects were arrested and over 30 additional suspects were charged in the latest phase of "Innocence Lost," a major investigation into criminal enterprises involved in the recruitment of children for prostitution.

As a result of this law enforcement operation, over 30 child victims were identified, bringing the total of child victims identified to more than 200 since the start of the Innocence Lost initiative in 2003. Property seizures in this latest sweep included residential homes, vehicles, US currency, electronics, jewelry, and child pornography images.

Indictments and criminal complaints were filed in four US Districts (the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the District of Hawaii). They charged 31 individuals with various offenses including the transportation of minors to engage in prostitution, attempting to coerce and entice minors to engage in prostitution, sex trafficking in children, kidnapping, witness tampering, possession and distribution of child pornography, illegal firearms possession, illegal drug offenses, money laundering and tax evasion. Twelve suspects were charged, but remain fugitives.

"This is a crime of hidden victims," said John Rabun, Vice President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "Many think child trafficking is only a problem in foreign countries, but nothing can be further from the truth. Thanks to the FBI’s leadership, more victims are being uncovered and more perpetrators arrested."

In a separate case in Michigan, suspects Deric Willoughby, Brandy Shope, Jennifer Huskey, and Richard Lamar Gordon were indicted on December 13, 2005 by a federal grand jury in Detroit.

The defendants are charged with 5 counts each including sexual exploitation of children, transportation of children for the purpose of prostitution, sexual trafficking of children, interstate transportation of minors for prostitution, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting.

The indictment alleges that during May 2005, defendants Willoughby, Shope, Huskey, and Gordon engaged in a conspiracy to commit the offenses of sexual exploitation of children and transportation of children for the purposes of prostitution.

According to court documents, the suspects transported two minor girls from their hometown of Toledo, Ohio to Michigan for the purpose of forcing the two minors to engage in commercial sexual acts for money. The children were instructed by Shope and co-defendant Huskey that they would be prostituting themselves for Willoughby and that they would have to obey him or suffer physical harm.

During the ten days that the two kids were being held by Willoughby, Shope and Huskey, each child was physically assaulted by Willoughby in addition to being forced to engage in several different commercial sexual acts as defendants Shope and Huskey watched, participated, and collected money from patrons.

At one point, the three suspects transported the two girls to a Sears parking lot in Toledo where they met another co-defendant Robert Gordon. Gordon, a commercial truck driver, transported the kids to a truck stop in Michigan where he paid to have sex with one of the minors, while the other minor, accompanied by defendant Shope, was forced to engage in commercial sexual acts with other truck drivers at the truck stop.

Sources: US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation - Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Section, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Files: ( .doc 31 KB )

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