ATLANTA — A West Africa refugee living in Clayton County was among the teenagers a Buckhead man profited from when he enslaved them for sexual purposes, said federal officials.
Steven E. Thompson, 43, a pimp who went by “Silk” when he worked the streets of Atlanta, has been convicted by a federal jury of sex trafficking of a juvenile, conspiring to do the same, and transportation for prostitution. He has not been sentenced.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Thompson took advantage of young girls with nowhere else to go.
“This defendant maintained his lifestyle on money made through prostitution,” she said. “Thompson had no problem with sexually exploiting women, even going as far as forcing a homeless 17-year old to have sex with strange men for a place to sleep. Sex trafficking is despicable. Our office will use every asset available to eradicate this practice from our community.”
Yates said between April and June of 2011, Thompson advertised a 17-year-old refugee from West Africa for prostitution, falsely listing her age as 19 and 20. Because she came to the United States without her parents, the teen was at the mercy of various relatives and friends for shelter and support, and went through frequent periods of homelessness.
In February 2011, the teen was declared a deprived child by Clayton County Juvenile Court and was placed in a temporary shelter, said Yates. Her grandmother took custody of her but soon left the country, leaving the teen to fend for herself. In April 2011, Thompson and Waters offered the homeless teenager a couch to sleep on while she waited to get into Job Corps, Yates said.
Thompson and his co-defendant, Tierra Waters, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sex-traffic a minor, lived in the Grandview Condominiums in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, said Yates. Thompson advertised his prostitution business on Backpage.com, posting advertisements inviting men to contact women for sex, according to testimony and evidence presented in federal court. The men then came to the Buckhead condo for sex or met the women at residences or hotels around Atlanta, Yates said.
“After a few weeks, (Thompson and Waters) told her that she would have to have sex with men for money or get out of the condo,” she said. “For the next six weeks, the teen was forced to have sex with three to five men each night at the condo and other places around Atlanta.”
In addition to the teen, Thompson also posted ads on Backpage.com for A.M., a prostitute from Washington, and F.F., a prostitute from Alabama. Thompson met A.M. on the Internet and invited her to come to Atlanta to work as a prostitute. In March 2011, A.M. flew from Seattle, Wash., to Atlanta, said Yates.
Prosecutors said she moved in with Thompson and Waters and continued to engage in prostitution from the condo. Likewise, Thompson found F.F. on Backpage.com. Thompson told F.F. that she could make more money being a prostitute in Atlanta than she could in Alabama and convinced her to come to Atlanta in August 2011.
The identities of the women involved are protected because they are victims of sex crimes.
Yates said men who think they are buying sex from a consenting adult may actually be contributing to sex trafficking of minors unwittingly. A customer testified at trial that he had found the minor on Backpage.com, not realizing she was underage. This witness also testified regarding threatening text messages he received from Thompson advising him of the teen’s age and attempting to extort money from him, she said.
This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. For more information, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.