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Press Release

Des Moines Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Child Exploitation, Sex Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Marijuana Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

DES MOINES, IA – A Des Moines man was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking three adult females by force, fraud, and coercion and kidnapping one of the adult females; 30 years for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor female; and 10 years for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently for a total term of 40 years in prison.

According to public court documents, Richard Thomas Ball, 47, used deceptive and coercive tactics as well as physical assaults to compel three adult females to engage in sex acts in exchange for money. Ball trafficked the victims and received proceeds from the victims’ sex acts. Ball kidnapped one of the victims during the course of trafficking her. Ball admitted that he transported the victim against her will in a vehicle from Missouri to Des Moines so that he could physically assault her during the trip as a form of revenge against another victim.

Ball also coerced three minor females to engage in sexually explicit conduct and caused images and videos to be produced of those minor females engaged in such conduct. Ball sexually abused the three minor females, one of whom he began abusing at age 13 and continued for approximately five years. Additionally, Ball admitted to conspiring with others, including minors, to transport marijuana to Iowa and distribute it.

United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Iowa State Patrol, and Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of youth under the age of 18 for commercial sex; the exploitation of adults for commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; and the exploitation of any individual for compelled labor. Human trafficking does not require the transportation of individuals across state lines, or that someone is physically restrained. Signs that a person is being trafficked can include working excessively long hours, unexplained gifts, physical injury, substance abuse issues, running away from home, isolation from others, or having a person in their life controlling them or monitoring them closely. Victims particularly susceptible to being trafficked include those with criminal histories, a history of physical or sexual abuse, uncertain legal status, and dependency on controlled substances. Individuals who purchase sex from minors or from those who are otherwise exploited for commercial sex are also subject to prosecution for sex trafficking under federal law, if they knew or were in reckless disregard of the fact that they were under the age of 18, or that force, fraud, or coercion was used.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring, be it a minor engaging in paid sex acts, or anyone being coerced into prostitution or labor, is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.


MacKenzie Tubbs
Public Information Officer 

Updated October 25, 2023

Human Trafficking
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime