ARMY SERGEANT CHARGED FEDERALLY FOR SEX TRAFFICKING JUVENILES
Defendant Allegedly Set Up Apartment and Craig’s List Ads for Juvenile Prostitutes
STERLING TERRANCE HOSPEDALES, 26, an Army Sergeant based at Fort Lewis, Washington, was charged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma today with Sex Trafficking of a Child and Attempted Sex Trafficking of a Child. HOSPEDALES will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 p.m. today. HOSPEDALES has been held in the Pierce County Jail on state charges since his arrest on April 14, 2009.
The investigation began on April 13, 2009, when Lakewood Police were alerted to a juvenile runaway from the Seattle area who was posting ads on Craig’s List indicating she was engaged in prostitution. Investigators from the Innocence Lost Task Force, a federal task force targeting sex trafficking of children, followed up on the information, locating and interviewing the juvenile and a second juvenile. The first juvenile ultimately admitted that she worked as a prostitute out of an apartment HOSPEDALES had obtained for her, that HOSPEDALES had helped her post advertisements for prostitution with pictures of herself on Craig’s List, and that she provided the money she earned from prostituting to HOSPEDALES. The second juvenile had flown to the area from Wyoming with her plane ticket paid for by HOSPEDALES. The second girl stated that she had only been in town a week, and had taken pictures to post on Craig’s List for prostitution purposes, but had not started earning money for HOSPEDALES. HOSPEDALES was involved in recruiting the Wyoming girl and posting the advertisements on Craig’s List. According to the second juvenile, HOSPEDALES threatened to kick her out of the apartment and have other girls beat her up if she didn’t pay him back for the plane ticket by prostituting. HOSPEDALES was arrested as he left the Lakewood apartment he had rented for the juveniles.
Sex Trafficking of a Juvenile is punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years in prison up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and Lakewood Police Department as part of the Innocence Lost Task Force.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.