Bond not reduced for 3 charged in Gastonia human trafficking case

GASTONIA, N.C. — Three people in connection with a 7-month-long human trafficking investigation in Gastonia faced a judge Tuesday -- the day after they were arrested.

Officials said Robert Derr, Rhodri Ross and Jack Phillips all face several charges related to the investigation.

The judge did not reduce their bonds during the first court appearance.

“I'm gonna need to know a lot more information from both sides before I get to reducing bond on this," the judge told Phillips’ attorney.

Police said the cases involved a girl who is younger than 16 years old and the encounters happened around Gaston County.

"Anyone that would prey upon youth or children, sexual acts and things of that nature, it's difficult," Gastonia Police Department Capt. Trent Conard said.


  • Robert Derr -- Two counts human trafficking of a child victim, first degree kidnapping, four counts of accessory before the fact to a felony, sexual servitude and indecent liberties with a child
  • Rhodri Ross -- Statutory rape with a child less than 15, statutory sex offense with a child less than 15 and first degree kidnapping
  • Jack Phillips -- Two counts of statutory rape of a child less than 15

Derr is accused of selling the girl to other men for sex.

Police started to unravel the case when relatives of the teen contacted them.

The investigation included the Gastonia Police Department, Gaston County Police Department and the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force.

(Derr, Ross and Phillips)

All three suspects are being held in the Gaston County Jail.

"(The suspects) would basically take her around to different parts of the county, and she would perform sexual acts and things for men," Conard said.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.