CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted two men and one woman on charges that they engaged in human trafficking and compelled girls as young as 14 to work as prostitutes, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced this afternoon.
The Grand Jury returned charges in two separate cases. In the first, Treyvon L. Williamson and Sharonika D. Allen were charged with forcing four young women, ranging in age from 14- to 18-years-old, to engage in prostitution by using threats and physical abuse to intimidate them. Investigators uncovered evidence that Williamson and Allen used social media, including Facebook and Instagram, to find and recruit the young women, advertised them as prostitutes on Backpage.com and arranged for customers to meet the women in motel rooms around Greater Cleveland. The illegal activities covered by the indictment occurred in April and May of 2015.
Williamson, 22, of Warrensville Heights, faces 20 felony charges including four counts of trafficking in persons, seven counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape, three counts of compelling prostitution, one count of promoting prostitution, one count of robbery and one count of having weapons under disability.
Allen, 26, of Bedford, is charged with 15 felonies: four counts of trafficking in Persons, five counts of Kidnapping, three counts of Compelling Prostitution, one count of Rape, one count of Robbery and one count of Promoting Prostitution.
In the second case charged by the Grand Jury, Reginald D. Williams faces two counts of trafficking in persons, two counts of compelling prostitution, one count of commercial sexual depiction of a minor and one count of possessing criminal tools.
The indictment targets Williams, 36, of Cleveland, for trafficking two girls, both 15. They, too, were advertised on Backpage.com and taken to hotels to work for Williams. The indictment covers criminal activity that for the most part occurred in March of this year.
"These pimps targeted vulnerable young women, coerced them into prostitution and advertised them like pieces of meat," said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rick Bell, chief of the Special Investigations Division in the Prosecutor's Office. "We take Human Trafficking very seriously in our office. We will be working with our law enforcement partners during the upcoming Republican National Convention to crack down on the exploiters, and with our social service partners to offer their victims a chance at a better life."
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