Two Oconee County men are facing multiple charges in connection with the prostitution of a 13-year-old girl, and more charges could be filed against them, according to Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry, who also said additional people could be facing charges, and that more girls may have been prostituted.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and I’ve got everybody available working on it. We’re also working with the (U.S.) Immigration and Customs Enforcement because they have a human trafficking division,” Berry said. “This is a big case, and we’ve got to see how many victims we have.”
Investigators went to a home on Dowdy Road about 9 p.m. Thursday and arrested 19-year-old Tyler Kaahill Standifur on charges of aggravated child molestation, trafficking persons for the purpose of sexual servitude, pandering by compulsion and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
The investigation began after the sheriff’s office was told by the girl that she had been prostituted by Standifur for almost two years, according to a sheriff’s office report.
“It started when she was 11 — the summer between the fifth and sixth grades,” Berry said.
Investigators obtained digital images and text messages between the girl and Standifur, evidence that led to Standifur’s arrest, according the report.
The girl’s parents had been unaware of the abuse, and are cooperating fully with investigators, according to Berry, who explained that the girl “was threatened with bodily harm if she came forward to talk. There are a lot of factors here.”
People who paid for sex with the girl will face serious child molestation charges, Berry said. “That’s one of the focuses of our investigation,” the sheriff said. “It’s certainly child molestation, and we’ve already charged one customer.”
On Friday, investigators arrested Salvador Martinez, 17, of Epps Bridge Parkway on charges of aggravated child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes. Martinez paid the victim $20 for sexual activity, and the girl was forced to turn this money over to Standifur, according to the sheriff’s report. According to Berry, Martinez paid to have sex with the girl on numerous occasions.
More charges are possible against Martinez and Standifur, who remain in the Oconee County Jail without bond, Berry said.
An investigation is continuing, according to the sheriff, who said, “Not only are we looking for suspects, but we’re looking for more victims.”