A young Texas woman thought she had landed her dream job when she found an ad on Craigslist offering to fly her out to Philadelphia and become a model. However, it turned into a nightmare after she was held hostage by a pimp.
Michael Watts, 43, reportedly flew the 20-year-old woman up to Philadelphia for free on July 13 with the blessing of the woman’s parents and picked her up at the airport, NY Daily News reported. However, instead of taking her to a glamorous hotel, Watts took the woman back to his apartment in Voorhees, according to police. He stripped her of her cellphone, money and other belongings.
Watts threatened that there would be further consequences if the woman didn’t comply with his orders or if she tried to escape, according to prosecutors.
Watts then took the woman to Cove Gentlemen’s club in Port Richmond, Pennsylvania, where he forced her to dance on a pole. Although she initially refused, two women, identified as 25-year-old Staysha Hackmann and 21-year-old Michelle Rolon, ripped the clothing off of her and forced her to dance.
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The woman was brought back to the club on Tuesday and Wednesday and forced to dance again. At the end of the shift on Wednesday, she was reportedly taken to another apartment in Voorhees. The next morning, she made a run for it.
The woman claimed she was chased on foot by Hackmann and Rolon and by car until she managed to find a bank. She entered the building and begged employees to call 911.
Hackmann and Rolon were arrested that day. Watts, who has been arrested in the past for gun and drug convictions, was arrested on Friday.
Hackmann and Rolon were charged with third-degree criminal restraint. They were released from jail on Friday.
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Watts was charged with first-degree human trafficking and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. He was jailed at the Camden County Jail on $500,000 bail. He was still in police custody as of Tuesday.
“Human trafficking knows no boundaries and is not just an urban problem, as many people believe,” Voorhees Police Chief Louis Bordi said. “Identifying and caring for victims continues to be a high priority for law enforcement and we must look beyond the arrest of suspects as the sole remedy in combating human trafficking.”
Bordi added that he’s encouraged by the result of the case, since the victim has since been returned to her parents.
Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Live/Camden County Prosecutor