Charge: Kent woman, boyfriend pimped girls online
A 44-year-old Kent woman and her boyfriend are facing prison following allegations they pimped three children on Backpage.com and other websites.
Jailed earlier this month, Altesa B. Turner and Bernard D. Watkins are accused of posting lurid photos of the girls online while collecting half of the money they were paid for sex. King County prosecutors claim the couple pimped girls as young as 15.
According to charging documents, Turner admitted she’d seen the ads featuring the girls and told Kent police she likes to “help young people” who have nowhere to turn.
Kent police launched an investigation into the couple on July 11, when Turner was seen beating up a young woman near a bus stop there, Det. Brian Lewis told the court.
Officers investigating the fight were told Turner and Watkins, 32, were involved in prostitution and drugs, Lewis continued. Prosecutors contend the investigation that followed bore out those claims.
Kent police searched the couple’s home the day after the fight and recovered a small amount of cocaine, a shotgun and several shells, the detective told the court. Watkins, described in court documents as a convicted felon, isn’t allowed to handle guns but has not been charged with unlawful gun possession.
Investigators came to believe Turner and Watkins had been pimping girls out of their apartment, located in the 11100 block of Southeast 208th Street.
According to charging documents, Turner took lurid photos of a 15-year-old girl and then posted the photos on Backpage.com, a classified advertising website frequently used by prostitutes and their customers. Lewis noted Turner loaned the girl lingerie and heels for the topless photo shoot.
After taking the photos, Turner paid for and wrote the Backpage.com advertisement, the detective continued. Police claim to have found a couch matching the one pictured in the advertisement inside Turner and Watkins’ apartment.
Lewis said investigators were able to identify two other girls, ages 16 and 17, whose photos had been posted online in prostitution advertisements on Backpage. One of those ads pointed “johns” to Turner’s phone number.
A witness told police Watkins collected half of the money “johns” paid the girls for sex, the detective continued.
Speaking with police following her arrest on July 12, Turner said she recognized prostitution ads for three girls and one 20-year-old woman, and said she knew two of the girls were underage, Lewis told the court.
Turner claimed she was trying to help the girls by posting prostitution ads for them.
“Turner said she never made a profit from the prostitution,” the detective told the court. Lewis added that Turner claimed “she likes to help young people out who do not have other places to go.”
Turner and Watkins are being held at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center on $50,000 bail. Both have been charged with promoting the commercial sexual abuse of a minor; Turner is also charged with fourth-degree assault and a drug offense.
Both are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in King County Superior Court.