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Tacoma men charged for sex trafficking of underage girls
human traffickingPierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has charged three Tacoma men for sex trafficking of underage girls. Curtis Escalonte, 23, and Michael Williams II, 23, pleaded not guilty to human trafficking in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, intimidating a witness, promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, child molestation in the third degree, and promoting prostitution in the second degree. They were ordered held in lieu of $2 million bail. Williams II’s younger brother, Mikael Williams, 18, pleaded not guilty to promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor and is being held on $500,000 bail.
“Our office is committed to aggressively prosecuting defendants who abuse and exploit the young victims of human trafficking,” said Lindquist.
On Dec. 18, 2014, a woman called 911 to report that her 15-year-old daughter had run away from home and was prostituting out of a motel in Tacoma. The mother found her daughter’s ad on Backpage.com. She called the number in the ad and pretended to be an interested customer. She drove to the motel and confronted Escalonte and Williams II. Police arrived and arrested the men.
A 16-year-old victim told detectives that she and the 15-year-old girl met Escalonte and Williams II on Facebook. They went to dinner with the men before being taken to a Tacoma motel. The men gave the girls Ecstasy and took naked photos of them to post on Backpage.com ads.
Over the course of a week, the girls were forced to have sex with multiple men and give all the money they earned to Escolante and Williams II. The men carried guns and threatened to kill the girls if they went to the police.
Mikael Williams often rented the motel rooms where the prostitution took place. He also filled in for his older brother by watching over the “corporation” – MACC PACC – while his brother was away.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.