BROOKSVILLE - Ten people face human trafficking charges after an investigation showed one of them forced the teenage girl under their care into prostitution and the other nine paid to sexually assault her, said Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis and state officials at a Friday news conference.
The Hernando County Sheriff's Office and other state agencies spent two years investigating this case and made arrests in five counties. Those arrested include an East Lake firefighter who lives in Spring Hill and a Hernando County restaurateur. Nienhuis said the investigation is continuing and there more could be more arrests.
"Two years may even seem small compared to what this investigation ends up being," the sheriff said.
The identity of the accused trafficker was withheld by officials to avoid identifying the teen victim, Nienhuis said. Officials said the accused was someone who had custody of the child, such as a parent or guardian. That person faces charges of human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
The other nine arrested face those charges, and additional charges of lewd or lascivious battery. They are: Bryan Joseph Giguere, 36, of Homosassa; Joseph Andrew Easton, 24, of Inverness; James William Hancock, 67, of Delray Beach; Jason Michael Raulerson, 46, of High Springs; Spring Hill restaurateur Luigi Barile, 38; Lawrence Edward Kemble, 70, of Ocala; Latchman Kaladeen, 49, of Wesley Chapel; East Lake Fire Rescue Lt. Matthew Christopher Doyle, 39, of Spring Hill; and Shawn Christopher Henson, 39, of Newberry. They are being held without bail at various county jails.
Nienhuis was joined at the news conference by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell, who leads the agency's Tampa Bay operations center. The sheriff said the girl was a middle-teenager who was forced into being sexually abused for about six months.
"She should have been doing things like learning to drive, attending school dances and maybe thinking about going to college," Nienhuis said. "Instead, she was forced into prostitution."
The Sheriff's Office said it received an anonymous tip in May 2017 about ads on the now-shuttered website Backpage featuring the girl. An undercover operation led investigators to a filthy Hernando County home with bare concrete floors strewn with animal urine and feces, the sheriff said, where the victim lived with the accused trafficker. The victim was taken to a safe house for juvenile victims of trafficking outside the area.
The two-year investigation relied on interviews and documents to work through the prior six months, Nienhuis said. Investigators found that the accused trafficker posted the ads on Backpage and took money from clients, and sometimes left the girl with them overnight in other counties.
Henson and Giguere both sent the girl pictures of their children during their communications, the sheriff said. Doyle, who also has worked part-time at Bayfront Health Brooksville as a registered nurse, told the girl he worked in the medical field, Nienhuis said.
Kaladeen is an undocumented immigrant who has been deported once before, Nienhuis said. He anticipated that Kaladeen would be deported again after the case is resolved. Barile took three of his friends to sexually assault the girl, Nienhuis said, and all four paid to do so. The sheriff did not reveal more details about that incident because the investigation is ongoing.
Moody said human trafficking is a top concern of her office and other state agencies. They will keep going after traffickers and clients alike who Moody said "knew or recklessly disregarded" that they were sexually assaulting a child. The attorney general noted the high rate of calls from Florida to a national hotline for human trafficking, and emphasized the importance of the anonymous tip that broke open this case.
"While that is scary, and while it tells us that there is a lot of work to do, there is also promise in that," Moody said. "We are asking the public to help us."
The victim has been recovering since her rescue, Nienhuis said. She's back in school, learning to play the piano and considering a career as a social worker, the sheriff said, so she can help others who have been exploited.
Contact Jack Evans at email@example.com. Follow @JackHEvans.