GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Disclaimer: Some may find the details included in this story to be graphic in nature. Discretion is advised.
A home labeled as a place that offers services for homelessness is now at the center of a criminal investigation involving human sex trafficking.
On Tuesday, the Gainesville Police Department arrested Kevarius King, 20, and Justin Hoyt, 25, both of whom are from Newberry. The two men are each charged with a count of human trafficking after police said the pair forced a homeless woman into prostitution.
According to the arrest report, the victim moved into the Safe Hands Group Home, which is advertised online as a place that offers services for homelessness. The report states that the victim referred to King and Hoyt as caretakers, but the Safe Hands Group LLC business is publicly listed as being owned by King.
The victim told police that within the past two weeks, King and Hoyt coerced her into commercial sexual activity with dozens of men inside the home, according to the report. Police said the pair arranged meetings with men at the home where the victim was being kept.
According to the report, the unwilling victim was forced to have sex with strangers and perform sex acts while King and Hoyt used their cellphones to record videos. In exchange, the pair reportedly received money from customers, the report shows.
The victim told that police she was so disgusted by what she was forced to do that it would cause her to vomit. She also told the police that she feared she may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease because some of the customers did not wear condoms. According to the report, when police asked the victim about her relationship with King and Hoyt, she stated, “It’s basically like they own me.”
The report states that King and Hoyt were not the only ones who allegedly took advantage of the victim.
The victim told police that on Sunday, while performing a sex act on a customer, the man held a narcotic in his hand and forced it down her mouth, causing her to have a seizure and fall unconscious for several hours. She said she was not sure if she was raped while unconscious. According to the arrest report, while the victim was still unconscious, she was driven to a library where she was dropped off. The woman told library staff that she was a victim of human sex trafficking and asked the staff to call 911.
When the woman spoke with investigators, according to the report, she said that King and Hoyt took control of her Supplemental Security Income check and were in the process of attempting to open a bank account in her name.
Gainesville police said a search of the Safe Hands Group home turned up evidence such as mail/receipts in the names of the two suspects along with condoms. Police also said King and Hoyt were in possession of cellphones that match the description of the cellphones used to allegedly record the victim performing sex acts on customers.
Investigators said both men told stories to police that did not add up. Investigators also noted in the arrest report that King and Hoyt were suspects in a previous incident of alleged human sex trafficking at the same group home. That investigation was six months prior to the current investigation.
“There were a lot of similarities to it and we did not develop any probable cause to move forward on that case, but in light of what has occurred now, we’re going back on that one to re-examine it,” Detective John Pandak told News4JAX.
According to the report, both men later admitted to prostitution happening inside the home.
A background check on Hoyt revealed that he was convicted as a minor on charges of sexual assault and child neglect back in 2016. He was released from custody a year later. As a result of that previous conviction, Hoyt is now a registered sex offender in Alachua County.
As of Thursday, both men remained in jail on a bond of $250,000 each.