FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Fort Myers woman has been arrested and charged with multiple felonies after detectives with the Lee County Sheriff's Office Human Trafficking Unit began looking into allegations that four children were victims of forced servitude.
The woman is charged with four counts of aggravated child abuse - malicious punishment, a first degree felony, and four counts of forced labor or services by human trafficking, a second degree felony.
The investigation revealed, the suspect was forcing one child to commit acts of prostitution in order to obtain a variety of drugs or money to buy drugs. In other instances, the suspect would use the child to victimize her male companions and rip them off for more money. For almost two years, all four children were forced to purchase drugs on the suspects behalf. The children would go to the home of drug traffickers despite their fears and objections. Refusal to participate resulted in beatings and emotional abuse.
Detectives learned the punishment given the four children was severe and included beatings with broomsticks, hangars and, in at least one instance , a hammer. The suspect intentionally peed on one of the children on one occasion. She is accused of leaving the children without proper supervision hours at a time. Additionally, the children endured periods where there was no food for them to eat, while the suspect spent her money for drugs. At other times she would threaten to, or actually, withhold food for misbehavior. She threatened them with beatings if they did not lie to Department of Children and Families investigators looking into the abuse allegations.