Buckhead Man Convicted for Sex Trafficking of a Minor
ATLANTA - Steven E. Thompson has been convicted by a federal jury of sex trafficking of a juvenile, conspiring to do the same, and transportation for prostitution.
“This defendant maintained his lifestyle on money made through prostitution,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Thompson had no problem with sexually exploiting women, even going as far as forcing a homeless 17-year old to have sex with strange men for a place to sleep. Sex trafficking is despicable. Our office will use every asset available to eradicate this practice from our community.”
‘"The sale of under-aged girls for sex is a plague on our society and my agents will not rest while we know there are more victims out there being exploited by these 'pimps' who should be more accurately known as child rapists,” said Special Agent in Charge Brock D. Nicholson, head of Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta. “I am grateful to the GBI for joining us in this investigation and for their larger commitment to target the criminals engaging in sex trafficking in Georgia.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Thompson and his co-defendant, Tierra Waters, who pled guilty to conspiracy to sex-traffic a minor, lived in the Grandview Condominiums in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Ga. Thompson advertised his prostitution business on Backpage.com, posting advertisements inviting men to contact women for sex. The men then came to the Buckhead condo for sex or met the women at residences or hotels around Atlanta.
Between April and June of 2011, Thompson advertised a 17-year old refugee from West Africa for prostitution, falsely listing her age as 19 and 20. Because she came to the United States without her parents, the teen was at the mercy of various relatives and friends for shelter and support and went through frequent periods of homelessness. In February of 2011, the teen was declared a deprived child by the Clayton County, Ga., Juvenile Court and was placed in a temporary shelter. Her grandmother took custody of her, but soon left the country, leaving the teen to fend for herself. In April 2011, Thompson and Waters offered the homeless teenager a couch to sleep on while she waited to get into Job Corps.
After a few weeks, they told her that she would have to have sex with men for money or get out of the condo. For the next six weeks, the teen was forced to have sex with three to five men each night at the condo and other places around Atlanta, Ga. The teen was arrested in an undercover operation at the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta on June 11, 2011.
Men who think they are buying sex from a consenting adult may actually be contributing to sex trafficking of minors unwittingly. A customer testified at trial that he had found the minor on Backpage.com, not realizing she was underage. This witness also testified regarding threatening text messages he received from Thompson advising him of the teen's age and attempting to extort money from him.
In addition to the teen, Thompson, 43, who went by the name ‘Silk,’ also posted ads on Backpage.com for A.M., a prostitute from Washington, and F.F., a prostitute from Alabama. Thompson met A.M. on the Internet and invited her to come to Atlanta to work as a prostitute. In March 2011, A.M. flew from Seattle, Wash., to Atlanta. She moved in with Thompson and Waters and continued to engage in prostitution from the condo. Likewise, Thompson found F.F. on Backpage.com. Thompson told F.F. that she could make more money being a prostitute in Atlanta than she could in Alabama and convinced her to come to Atlanta in August 2011.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Coppedge and Leslie J. Abrams prosecuted the case.
This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.