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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tennessee Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Coercing Prostitution, Being Felon with a Gun

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Tennessee man to 14 years in prison for enticing and coercing two young women into prostitution and for being a convicted felon with a gun, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey and FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge David W. Archey.

CHRISTOPHER TYLER RICHARDS, 26, used physical violence, intimidation and even sexual abuse to coerce the two women to travel among the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama to prostitute themselves and give the money they made to him, according to government documents. One of the women, identified in court documents as “Victim 1,” was 18 years old. “Victim 2” was 25.

“This defendant preyed on the vulnerabilities of troubled young women and made his living by convincing them – through intimidation and physical assault – to engage in prostitution and turn the money over to him,” Posey said.

“This case shows that human trafficking exists in our backyard, not just in major metropolitan areas,” Archey said. “I am extremely proud of the work done by the Human Trafficking Task Force to bring Richards to justice and hold him accountable for his crimes.”

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins sentenced Richards on two counts of enticement and coercion of a person for prostitution and one count of being a felon in possession of a gun. Richards pleaded guilty to the charges in March. He already is in custody.

Richards’ plea agreement lists prior felony convictions of possession of a controlled substance in January 2012, and in August 2013, failure to appear in court on a felony case and intentionally evading arrest in an automobile. All three convictions were in state court in Shelby County, Tenn.

Richards victimized the women from mid-December 2014 through mid-February 2015 before Homewood Police arrested him after receiving a call from the father of the 18-year-old who texted him that she had been beaten and “possibly trafficked,” according to the government’s sentencing memorandum.

Richards first met Victim 1 when she was 13 years old, according to Richards’ plea agreement. They lost touch, but met again in 2014 near Memphis when the girl was 17. Shortly after she turned 18, according to the plea agreement, Richards convinced her to go with him to Texas, but on the way there changed the destination to New Orleans. It was there that he first pressured her to prostitute herself and began beating her.

Richards also met Victim 2 in New Orleans. He took photos of both of the women and began advertising them for prostitution on the website Backpage.com. At one point, upon learning that Victim 2 would not agree to a certain sex act with customers, Richards sexually assaulted her, forcibly performing the act, according to court documents.

The FBI and the Northern District of Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier Carter Sr. prosecuted.

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Updated June 28, 2017