FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 30, 2017
Three Defendants Charged With Promoting Prostitution
Of Three Teenage Girls in East New York
Victims Were Ages 13, 15 and 17
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an East New York man, his girlfriend and another woman have been charged in a 24-count indictment with promoting three underage girls as prostitutes.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly profited off of three troubled and vulnerable young women. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and a good time to reaffirm this office’s commitment to protecting victims who are demeaned and dehumanized by defendants such as those charged in this indictment.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Keisia Atkins, 29, Mercedes Jones, 19 and Whetsel Wade, 45, all of East New York, Brooklyn. They are variously charged with second-, third- and fourth-degree promoting prostitution and related charges. Atkins was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun and ordered held on bail of $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash. Jones and Wade were arraigned before Justice Chun earlier this month. Jones’ bail was set at $25,000 and Wade was ordered held without bail. The top count carries up to 15 years in prison.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between August 2016 and November 2016, Wade promoted the 13, 15 and 17-year-old girls as prostitutes, posting photos of them on Backpage.com, alongside advertisements for escorts. The defendant would then allegedly drive the minors to hotels or private apartments to meet men who paid to have sex with them. In some instances, the defendant would have the Johns come to his home on Crescent Street in East New York to have sex with the girls in his living room.
It is alleged that Jones assisted Wade in promoting all three victims as prostitutes and Atkins is alleged to have assisted in promoting the youngest victim after she turned 14-years-old in November.
On November 14, 2016, police responded to an incident at the defendant’s house and found the 17-year-old victim inside the defendant’s basement. The defendant had fled the scene and was arrested two days later. Jones was arrested earlier this month and Atkins was arrested this morning.
This case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective David Mills under the supervision of Lieutenant Marc Morales and Captain Thomas Milano from the Vice Major Case Division.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney David Weiss of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, with the assistance of Human Trafficking Social Worker Haley Feldman, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Laura Edidin, Chief of the Human Trafficking Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau.
An indictment is merely an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt