PINEVILLE, N.C. - A suspect who is accused of being involved in a brutal case of sex trafficking was allowed to walk out of jail without putting up a bond.
Two people were arrested in connection with a human trafficking investigation in Pineville, police said.
Thomas Miller and Shakeeta Adams are accused of performing violent acts against a woman in front of her two children at two Pineville hotels.
Miller was a free man shortly after the arrests. He didn't have to post a $100,000 bond because he was accepted in Mecklenburg County's pretrial release program.
Police said a woman came forward and said she needed help for herself and two children.
Authorities said the victim was being held against her will and forced into sexual acts with random men at the Comfort Suites and Quality Suites in Pineville.
Police said Miller physically and mentally punished her if she did not meet a certain financial quota.
Cheryl Jones is with Courtwatch, a volunteer group that keeps tabs on the justice system.
"This is ridiculous and ludicrous,” Jones said. “How dare you turn somebody loose that has been charged with these kinds of charges."
"In this case, the defendant was referred by a visiting judge and was placed on supervision," said Jessica Ireland, who heads the pretrial program.
If the victim refused to do what her captors said, Miller would beat her with a belt and burn her with a hot wire coat hanger, all in front of her two children, police said.
"There was a lot of emotion that went into this case," Lt. Corey Copley, with the Pineville Police Department, said last week.
The children, who were also beaten at times, are 6 and 8 years old. Police said there were no sex crimes against the children.
"She was brought here under false pretenses and made to perform sex acts on random men," Copley said.
Police said Miller had a guard who helped make sure the victim couldn't escape, but she did.
She managed to run to the nearby LifeWay Christian Resources bookstore for help.
"We're so glad that our LifeWay team, here in Pineville, was seen as a safe place by this mother and that we were able to help this family escape their trying situation," said Wesley Caldwell, the LifeWay store manager.
Officers said hotels across the area, including the two in this case, have put their employees through training to spot the signs of human trafficking.
A manager of one of the hotels said Miller made the hair on his neck stand up. Miller would only pay for rooms in cash.
Employees told police they watched random men avoid staff when they went in and out of the hotel, the manager said.
Miller is charged with human trafficking, sexual servitude, assault by strangulation, assault on a child under 12, assault on a female and communicating threats.
Ireland said Miller could have posted bond without supervision. She said that since Miller is in the pretrial release program, there will be some added supervision.
"Pretrial is doing their job,” Courtwatch’s Jones said. “They go through the motions and they put these people up, but the judge has the right to say, ‘No. No, you're too dangerous.’"
Adams is charged with simple assault.
Officers believe more people may have been victimized by Miller and Adams. They're encouraging any other victims to call the Pineville Police Department at 704-889-2231.
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