CHARLOTTE — Court documents are shedding light on a sex trafficking case that spanned the Carolinas.
The records show that for months, a 15-year-old girl was being sold for sex at hotels in Fort Mill and Charlotte. The teen, who had been reported missing, was being sold for sex until the FBI moved in, the documents reveal.
Federal prosecutors say Kristi Heather King was trafficking a teen for sex spanning from “mid-July to September of 2021 and again briefly in December of 2021 in Charlotte and Fort Mill.” Records show the teenager’s boyfriend, Tawaan Batten, is also charged in the case.
In the court documents, prosecutors say the victim was reported missing in June of 2021. They also say King would buy the teen “clothes and supplies, including condoms, took pictures of the minor and posted them in commercial sex advertisements online,” and then arranged “plays” for the minor with customers.
At times, prosecutors say, King would rent out two hotel rooms -- One for her and one for the victim to work out of. They would message each other on Facebook where prosecutors say King would give the victim specific instructions. Those included ones like -- “take you a shower and do your hair and lashes...” or the next message, “you got another play coming in 30 minutes.”
Prosecutors say some of the clients wouldn’t pay the victim directly and instead, they’d pay King’s Cash App.
Child advocates say they aren’t surprised to hear about the case, but they say there are critical resources for children and teens when this does happen.
“Child sexual abuse happens every day in our community, in every single neighborhood,” said Andrew Oliver with Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center.
Oliver‘s team helps abused kids, including those in sex trafficking cases.
“You can’t imagine the trauma that a child would experience in a situation like that,” he said.
Oliver says they’re difficult cases but they’re ones we all can help to prevent.
“We have to impress on all adults the importance of reporting their suspicions and concerns of abuse,” he said.
Kristi King is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor, sex trafficking of a minor and transportation of a minor. Batten, listed in court documents as King’s boyfriend, is facing the same charges.
King has another hearing scheduled for later this month, where more charges could be added.
(WATCH BELOW: Former Davidson nail salon owner sentenced to prison in human trafficking, forced labor case)
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