CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal jury in Charlotte convicted Tawaan Batten today of sex trafficking a minor, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Batten, 33, of Charlotte, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor, one count of sex trafficking of a minor, and one count of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in commercial sexual activity. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. presided over the three-day trial.
Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
"Batten took advantage of a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who turned to him out of desperation and exploited her in the worst way – for profit," said U.S. Attorney King. "My Office will not allow our children to be traded as commodities and sold for sex. With the help of our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes, hold offenders accountable, and more importantly identify, rescue, and support victims."
“It is difficult to fathom that someone would sell a child for sex. But that is exactly what Batten did and now he faces a possible life sentence for his crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge DeWitt. “The FBI works tirelessly to hold accountable those who carry out crimes against children, and we devote significant resources to help sex trafficking victims recover from the trauma they suffer.”
According to filed court documents, trial evidence, and witness testimony, from July 2021, through December 2021, Batten engaged in a conspiracy to sex traffic a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina and South Carolina. Trial evidence established that Batten, who was at times assisted by Kristi Heather King, 33, of Locust, North Carolina, posted advertisements of the minor victim on commercial sex websites, arranged the minor victim’s sexual encounters with customers, and booked hotel rooms where the encounters took place. Trial evidence further established that Batten kept almost all of the money the victim earned from these commercial sexual encounters. Batten used various physical and psychological ways to control the minor victim, including branding the minor victim with tattoos.
Batten remains in federal custody. At sentencing, he faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
On November 9, 2023, King pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sex traffic the minor victim and is currently awaiting sentencing.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and thanked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for their invaluable assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Spaugh and Daniel Cervantes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.
If you are the victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please call the FBI, local law enforcement, or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. To submit a tip to the NHTRC online please visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/report-trafficking.