A Bradford County man was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in June to making money from child sex trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Rajheem Kwamaine Roddey, 24, of Starke, was part of a trio involved in a scheme in which a 14-year-old girl was transported to homes and motels and forced to perform sex acts, according to court documents.
Investigators said that between April and June 2017, advertisement, which listed the teen with the fake name "Emily," were posted under a section for "escort services" on Backpage.com. But the FBI said that the actual purpose of the advertisements was to prostitute the teen.
According to court documents, Roddey, as well as Bailegh Noelle Coleman and Laney Ellis, profited from the teen being prostituted.
Roddey was the last of the three to plead guilty.
Attorney Randy Reep, who is not affiliated with the case, believes Roddey's 12-year sentence might be too light.
"It's possible he could've gotten about 30 years," Reep said.
Coleman, 21, of Starke, pleaded guilty on Nov. 8, 2017, to child sex trafficking and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26.
On Feb. 20, Ellis, 21, also of Starke, pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking and is set to be sentenced on Oct. 29.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department.
Attorney warns of online dangers
Though investigators said this human trafficking crime happened on Backpage.com, attorney Rick Alexander, who's a former prosecutor, said these crimes happen all over the internet.
"It's going on at an alarming rate," said Alexander, who represents victims of sex crime. "The internet has made this easier to do, so it is very prevalent in Florida."
According to advocacy groups, teenagers could be trapped in sex trafficking for years. Alexander said some teens may be more vulnerable.
"Often times, perpetrators are looking for teenagers that are at risk, teenagers who don't have a lot of adult supervision, teenagers that are out in places where they can be victimized."
Alexander said it's important for parents to pay attention to what their children are doing, no matter how responsible or mature they may seem.