Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Burlington County couple was indicted on charges including first-degree human trafficking of a minor for allegedly forcing a 17-year-old girl to engage in prostitution at area motels for their profit.
The couple allegedly posted nude photos of the girl on Backpage.com advertising her services as an “escort” and had her snort crystal methamphetamine with them while they had her working as a prostitute.
Christopher K. White, 19, of Eastampton, and his girlfriend, Adria Regn, 28, of Mount Holly, were indicted yesterday, Aug. 14, by a state grand jury on the following charges:
Human Trafficking of a Minor;
Promoting Prostitution of a Minor;
Promoting Organized Street Crime;
Manufacturing Child Pornography;
Facilitating Human Trafficking;
Distribution of Child Pornography;
Possession of Child Pornography with Intent to Distribute; and
Impairing or Debauching the Morals of a Child.
The charge of human trafficking of a minor carries a sentence of 20 years to life in state prison, including 20 years without possibility of parole. White and Regn were arrested in May by the Mount Holly Police Department. They have been detained in the Burlington County Jail since their arrests
“This is a classic case of human trafficking where these defendants allegedly trapped an underage girl in dehumanizing circumstances in which they gave her drugs and forced her to have sex with multiple men per day,” said Attorney General Porrino. “It’s terrible for anyone to be exploited in this manner, but it’s especially heartbreaking when the victim is so young and vulnerable.”
“Our Human Trafficking Unit will continue to work with law enforcement partners throughout the state to rescue victims of human trafficking and ensure that those responsible for these deplorable crimes are aggressively prosecuted,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone who sees a child or teenager in suspicious circumstances to call our confidential human trafficking hotline.”
The investigation began after the victim reported allegations that she was forced by White and his girlfriend, Regn, to work as a prostitute for a period of 10 days in October 2016 at various motels where they lived in Burlington County. Regn has two young children, and the victim, who knew White, went to the first motel believing she would be babysitting the children.
Instead, White and Regn allegedly gave her drugs, including crystal methamphetamine and marijuana, and told her that she needed to work as an “escort” for them so that they could make money. They allegedly said that if she did not work for them, it would be her fault if Regn’s children ended up on the street. White allegedly threatened to beat the victim if she did not take crystal meth, and he also allegedly threatened that to find her and beat her if she did not continue to work for them as a prostitute.
White and Regn allegedly placed a number of ads on Backpage.com with photos of the victim in various states of undress, including completely nude, advertising the girl’s services as an escort. Those alleged photos and ads are the basis for the child pornography charges.
White and Regn, who would stay in the same room as the victim or an adjoining room, would allegedly arrange for clients to meet the victim for sex. They allegedly collected all of the money paid by the clients. The victim did not receive money. During a three- or four-day stay at a motel in Wrightstown, White and Regn allegedly made the victim have sex with at least five men each day. The victim ultimately fled while White and Regn were asleep.
The first-degree human trafficking charge carries a sentence of 20 years without parole to life in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The charge of promoting organized street crime carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison, consecutive to the sentence for any underlying crime. The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date.