2 men charged in rape, teen pimping cases
Two men have been charged with promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor and second-degree rape for allegedly pimping out a 16-year-old girl and beating and raping a woman who refused to work as a prostitute for them, according to Pierce County prosecutors. The men allegedly took photos of the girl and advertised her on Backpage.com, the online advertising site that's drawn national fire for accepting ads that promote the illegal sex trade.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two men have been charged with promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor and second-degree rape for allegedly pimping out a 16-year-old girl and beating and raping a woman who refused to work as a prostitute for them, according to Pierce County prosecutors.
Claude Hutchinson, 25, and Eugene Young, 27, were arrested Monday on bench warrants issued last week, court and jail records show. The men are both felons who were also wanted on unrelated warrants, charging papers say.
Both men pleaded not guilty Monday.
On Sept. 25, the 16-year-old girl met Hutchinson and Young on a bus and agreed to help them cash a check, according to charging documents. The following day, the men took the girl to a motel in Fife, photographed her in her underwear and advertised her on the online advertising site Backpage.com, the documents allege.
The men threatened to beat her if she didn't make them money through prostitution, the papers say.
The girl also witnessed the men beat Young's 24-year-old ex-girlfriend, who was assaulted and raped over several days when she refused to prostitute for them, according to charging papers.
The woman's family came and got her Sept. 28 while Hutchinson and Young were out of the motel room, the papers say. That same day, the 16-year-old was arrested for prostitution and released, but her mother didn't want her at home so the girl returned to Hutchinson and Young "because she had nowhere else to go," charging papers say.
Lakewood police officers and members of the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force learned that the girl was being advertised on Backpage.com and undercover officers made two prostitution dates with her at a motel in SeaTac, the papers say. After agreeing to have sex with an officer for money, the girl was again arrested and told police she was afraid of Hutchinson and Young, who had told her "she would feel pain if she did not comply," according to charging papers.
The girl said she had performed 20 to 30 acts of prostitution and had given $2,000 to Young, the papers say.
"We are focused on vigorously prosecuting pimps, especially those who exploit and abuse underage girls. Backpage.com, unfortunately, is still being used for sex-trafficking of minors," Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a news release.
Backpage.com, which has drawn fire for accepting ads that promote the illegal sex trade, was previously owned by Village Voice Media Holdings. Last month, the company was split up, with a new holding company purchasing 13 alternative weekly newspapers, including The Seattle Weekly, while Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey maintained ownership of Backpage.com.
In July, three Washington teenagers filed a personal-injury lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court against Backpage.com, accusing the website's owners of facilitating their exploitation for the company's profit. That same month, a federal judge in Seattle granted Backpage.com an injunction to stop a Washington state law from going into effect that would have required companies like Backpage.com to verify the ages of people posting ads in its "escorts" section. The law also created the crime of "advertising the commercial sex abuse of a minor," a Class C felony.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org