Feds Indict Cleveland Man for Human Trafficking

Feds Indict Cleveland Man for Human Trafficking
Today, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach indicted Ronnie Pratt on human trafficking charges relating to his "pimp" relationship with two girls. 

From Dettelbach's office:

He did this by taking photos of his girls and posting the photos on www.backpage.com. Pratt handled all text communications with potential customers and transported the girls to “dates.” He kept a portion of the money they were paid for commercial sex acts, according to court documents.

One of the girls was 13 when she began working for Pratt, according to court documents.

Pratt had a gun that he used to intimidate at least one of the girls, according to court documents. 

Earlier this year, the 13-year-old victim (14 at the time of the investigation) told the FBI that Pratt was aware of her age "and he believed she could pass for 16 or 17 years of age." A friend had introduced her to Pratt, who soon began bringing her along on rides when he transported other girls to what he called "dates." Pratt repeatedly asked her, "When are you going to start working for me?"

The backpage.com ad described a “lovely college girl” who has a “thing for older men.”

On Nov. 5, an FBI special agent reached out to the "lovely college girl," whose photos featured backgrounds that seemed familiar to him — backgrounds from other photos that involved underage girls. Here's how the initial text message went down ("Affiant" is the agent).

The agent met the girl and Pratt at a Lakewood hotel. After briefly confirming identities, law enforcement converged and arrested Pratt. A loaded .38-caliber revolver was found in Pratt's car. The girl recounted instances where Pratt used the gun to intimidate her and at least one other girl. 

At one point, another girl apparently stole Pratt's gun. He texted the 13-year-old victim in an attempt to get it back.

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About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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