Metro-East News

Missouri couple pleads guilty to sex trafficking Illinois minor

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A Missouri man and woman pleaded guilty in federal district court late this week to charges stemming from a sex trafficking case involving a female juvenile from the metro-east.

Acting U.S. Attorney James L. Porter of the Southern District of Illinois identified two Park Hills, Mo., defendants as Robin Thompson, 25, and Marcus Dewayne Thompson, 28. Both pleaded guilty in East St. Louis on Thursday and Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and by force, fraud or coercion. Marcus also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of sex trafficking a minor and by force, fraud or coercion.

The couple is scheduled to be sentenced to prison separately in September. Robin is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15 while Marcus is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 29.

Federal officials said last August that the husband-and-wife recruited girls ages 12-18 and traveled around the country with them selling them as prostitutes to older men. One of the couple’s accusers, a 15-year-old metro-east girl, told investigators last year that she earned approximately $1,000 a day through prostitution for her captors, from about June 9 until July 4.

Porter said court proceedings showed that during a six-week period in June and July 2015, Marcus orchestrated a venture with his wife, Robin, to recruit, transport and advertise “a minor female from Illinois” to commercial sex acts in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.

Marcus faces 15 years to life in prison while Robin faces a maximum life sentence. Both also face no more than five years of supervised release after their prison terms, mandatory special assessments of $200 and $100, respectively, and restitution.

Porter said the cases were brought forward as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Both cases are being investigated by the FBI and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel T. Kapsak, according to Porter’s press release.

Kaitlyn Schwers: 618-239-2526, @kaitlynschwers