U.S. Attorney’s Office Combats Human Trafficking in Recognition of Human Trafficking Prevention Month
WASHINGTON – A South Carolina man pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, and one count of sex trafficking of a minor.
According to court documents, Aaron T. Simmons, 26, of Greenville, used force, threats of force, fraud and coercion to compel one adult victim into engaging in commercial sex acts in the Greenville area between Aug. 2019 and Aug. 2020. The defendant also caused a minor victim to engage in commercial sex acts in the Greenville area between Aug. 2019 and Nov. 2019.
“Sex trafficking is a pernicious crime that preys upon vulnerable victims, including minors, and causes them grave harm,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department remains committed to prosecuting human traffickers and standing up for the defenseless people they exploit.”
“Today’s plea sends a message to those who harm others in this vile way: you will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina. “Crimes of this nature can create lifelong trauma for survivors. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to relentlessly prosecute trafficking cases.”
“The FBI and its partners are committed in our resolve to topple human trafficking operations and providing a path towards healing for survivors,” said Special Agent in Charge Steve Jensen of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “This guilty plea is a crucial step towards justice for the victims, who are suffering lasting trauma from the defendant’s heinous crimes.”
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date. Simmons faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI Columbia Field Office, Greenville Resident Agency and the Greenville Police Department investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Fisher Sherard for the District of South Carolina and Trial Attorney Francisco Zornosa of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the case.
Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report that information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about human trafficking, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. Information on the Justice Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.
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