Area Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Minors
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 03, 2014|
ST. LOUIS, MO—Reginald Williams was convicted of multiple charges involving the interstate transportation of two minors with the intent to engage in prostitution. The four-day trial was held before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton.
According to testimony presented at trial, on September 12, 2012, Collinsville, Illinois police officers received a report regarding a missing 16-year-old girl who was being forced to work as a prostitute by one or several adult males. The person reporting the information was familiar with online postings on the website www.backpage.com, in which photographs of the girl were used to offer her services for commercial sex. The telephone number associated with the advertisement was recognized to be used by “Reggie,” who was later identified as defendant Reginald Williams. Detectives reviewed the online advertisement, which contained sexually suggestive language and listed the poster’s age to be 20 years old. However, Illinois police were able to confirm that the girl was born in 1996.
Investigators also learned that a second minor female was believed to be in the 16-year-old’s company at a hotel in St. Louis County. Detectives from Illinois then contacted the St. Louis FBI and the St. Louis County Police Department.
On September 13, 2012, an undercover detective called the phone number listed in the online advertisement to set up a paid sex “date” with the two girls. When officers arrived at the hotel, they observed a black male, later identified as defendant Reginald Williams, exit the same hotel room where the two minor females were eventually found. Williams was arrested in the parking lot. When officers went to the room they found both girls, ages 16 and 17. Thereafter, officers determined that Williams transported the 16-year-old girl to the St. Louis area and Chicago with the intent she engage in prostitution. Officers also determined that Williams had attempted to recruit the 17-year-old girl and posted her on www.backpage.com, in which photographs of the girl were used to offer her services for commercial sex as well.
Williams, from the Chicago, Illinois area, was convicted of one felony count each of interstate transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in prostitution, sex trafficking a minor, attempted sex trafficking of a minor, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and use of interstate facilities to promote prostitution. Sentencing has been set for May 30, 2014.
He now faces 10 years to life in prison. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
In addition to the Collinsville, Illinois and St. Louis County Police Departments, this case was also investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.