CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – A South Georgia man was arrested over the weekend in connection to an alleged sex trafficking operation in Chattanooga, and according to a woman who told police she was beaten and forced to work as a prostitute, the operation spanned several states.
Learoy Williams, 33, of Eastman Georgia is facing one count of trafficking commercial sex.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by News 12, Williams was taken into custody by Chattanooga Police at the Hampton Inn on Shallowford Road. It was in one of the motel rooms where Williams reportedly beat a woman and forced her to work as a prostitute.
Officers found wounds on the woman’s body along with a blood soaked pillow to back up the woman’s claims.
According to the arrest affidavit, Chattanooga wasn’t the only location where she was forced to sell herself. The woman told authorities she had been forcible pimped by Williams in multiple states including Wisconsin, Florida and Mississippi.
To get an idea of what that woman may have gone through, News 12 spoke to a former Chattanooga prostitute who spent decades on the street before turning her life around. In an effort to protect this former prostitute from any kind of retaliation or public shame, News 12 has made an editorial decision to keep her identity a secret.
“I woke up in a hospital one time and someone had found me and helped me. I was beaten pretty bad,” she said.
According to the arrest affidavit, Williams used Backpage.com to pimp the woman out. She told authorities, Williams kept all the money she earned. Second Life Chattanooga CEO Jerry Redman told News 12 that is very typical of most pimps.
“This is a a demand driven crime and this crime is now run digitally. People are put on Backpages.com and similar sites and sold that way,” Redman said.
“These girls are being subjected to some horrible things for $5, $10, $20, so they have to keep doing it. They can make enough and pay for the hotel and food for the the pimp. She’ll be lucky if she gets to eat,” said the former prostitute.
According to TBI statistics, from 2014 to 2105 there was 28-percent increase in the number of reported cases of assisting and promoting prostitution. There was a 79-percent increase in reported cases involving the purchase of prostitution services.
As for Williams, a judge has set his bond at $150,000.
His next court date is scheduled for June 14.