One of five people arrested and charged in connection with an Oklahoma City escort service accused of prostituting underage girls has been acquitted of the federal child sex trafficking charge against him.
This summer, a federal indictment was unsealed with the charges against Tonya Gum, Trung Duong, William Baker, Curtis Anthony, and Russell Ehrens. The indictment alleged that in October 2014, Gum was running an escort service that provided girls as young as 14 and 15 to engage in prostitution. Duong, Baker, Anthony, and Ehrens were accused of soliciting child prostitution through the service allegedly provided by Gum.
Escort Service in Oklahoma City Broken Up
While four of the defendants are awaiting trial in January, a fifth has already had his day in court.
In a press release, the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Oklahoma detailed the allegation against Russell Ehrens, 55:
"According to court records, Ms. Gum arranged for a 14-year-old girl to go to the residence of Mr. Ehrens on October 15, 2014. After the commercial sex transaction was completed, the girl then delivered the proceeds of the commercial sex transaction with Mr. Ehrens to Ms. Gum."
Ehrens's attorney argued that his client never had sex with the girl or paid for sex with her, and that the government had insufficient evidence to prove its case. Jurors apparently agreed. Last week, he was acquitted of the child sex trafficking charge.
Under federal law, child sex trafficking--or procuring a minor for commercial sex or engaging in commercial sex acts with minors under 18--is a felony punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
Conspiracy to commit child sex trafficking, which which the remaining four defendants are also charged, is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
Child sex trafficking is also a violation of state law. In Oklahoma, as in federal law, human trafficking of a minor under the age of 18 carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Trafficking involving an adult aged 18 or older is punishable by a minimum of 5 years in prison. Learn more about Oklahoma human trafficking laws here.
Image Credit: Mayor McGinn