Case #186 - Cops: Man forced 14-year-old runaway into prostitution
A Palm Bay man was in jail Friday after investigators say he drugged and threatened to kill a 14-year-old runaway so he could sell her sexual services online.
Reginal Hardy, 39, was being held Tuesday at the Osceola County Jail on three prostitution-related charges, plus kidnapping and human trafficking.
Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation agents say Hardy met the girl in Cocoa during the first week of this month, began having sex with her and threatened her not to tell.
"If I talk to you, they will kill my family and me," she told police, according to a report. "They know my address and my numbers."
Hardy advertised her services online under the phony name "Jennifer" with a picture of someone else, the teen told investigators. She called Hardy "Daddy" – a common name that pimps insist that prostitutes call them, court documents show.
Hardy drove the girl to Orlando, where she stayed in two hotels, including one on or near International Drive, documents state. She was drugged and told to have sex with customers and put the money they paid her in a drawer, to be split later with Hardy later, investigators allege.
An Orlando police officer who made a traffic stop on a 2006 Chevrolet Impala on International Drive Sept. 5 found the girl under the influence of drugs and Hardy and a woman in the front seat, the report states.
Officers took the crying girl to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, where she told them what had been happening to her. She told them she was afraid of Hardy.
After the girl identified Hardy in a photo lineup, he was picked up on a warrant Sept. 12 in Osceola County.
St. Cloud police arrested him during a prostitution sting targeting prostitutes and pimps who advertise on backpage.com. Forty people, including suspected customers, were arrested.
Bail is set at $50,000.
Authorities say most children being trafficked are runaways.