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Press Release

Columbia Man Indicted on More Charges Related to Sex Trafficking Additional Victims

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columbia, Mo., man charged last month with sex trafficking a minor was indicted by a federal grand jury today on additional charges.

Kenneth Ronald Jones, 25, of Columbia, was charged in an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Jones on Feb. 23, 2017, and includes additional charges related to additional victims.

Today’s indictment charges Jones with three counts of transportation for illegal sexual activity by coercion and enticement. The indictment alleges that Jones induced three victims to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illicit sexual activity between May 1 and June 1, 2016.

Because one of those victims, identified in court documents as “L.V.,” was under the age of 18, the indictment also charges Jones with one count of transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity and with the sex trafficking of a minor. The indictment also charges Jones with three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, FBI agents learned on June 29, 2016, that a 17-year-old runaway from Wisconsin – identified in court documents as “L.V.” – was being held against her will and forced into prostitution by Jones. She was located at a residence in Columbia and removed by law enforcement agents the same day.

L.V. told investigators that she met Jones in May 2016 at a party in Milwaukee, Wis., and agreed to travel with him to Columbia to engage in prostitution. Within a few minutes of arriving at a Columbia residence that was used as a brothel, the affidavit says, a man arrived soliciting prostitution. This man selected L.V. from the approximately five prostitutes present, and paid to have sex with her. L.V. subsequently engaged in prostitution almost every day, averaging two or three clients per day.

Although Jones knew that L.V. was 17 years old, the affidavit says, he told everyone else at the brothel that L.V was 18 years old so she would be allowed to work there. L.V. reported that escort advertisements were purchased on Backpage, a classified advertising website frequently utilized by prostitutes.

Another victim, identified in court documents as “C.M.,” told police that three days after arriving at the house, Jones told her that she needed to make money, and threatened to kick her to the streets if she did not do what he wanted. C.M. agreed and did a prostitution “date.” When C.M. told Jones she didn’t want to do that anymore and that she was willing to work as a dancer to make money, Jones allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her. Jones said he was not playing games, and that C.M. was going to make money.

C.M. and a third victim, identified in court documents as “K.S.,” ran away from Jones in late May or early June 2016.

Jones became increasingly verbally abusive and cruel, the affidavit says, and pressured L.V. to see more clients. L.V. said she wanted to stop prostituting herself after two weeks and told Jones on multiple occasions she did not want to prostitute anymore because it was sad and degrading. Jones did not care, the affidavit says, and instructed L.V. to keep making money. She feared repercussions from Jones if she attempted to leave him.

L.V. told investigators that Jones had left for Milwaukee the day before law enforcement took her from the Columbia residence. Before he left, the affidavit says, Jones instructed L.V. to send the money she earned prostituting herself to him while he was in Milwaukee. L.V. told investigators that she had planned to flee from the residence the following day. Jones was arrested when he returned from Milwaukee for a Boone County court appearance today on an unrelated matter on Feb. 27, 2017.

Larson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the FBI.

Updated March 22, 2017

Human Trafficking