In Dallas, Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking Teen Out of Hotel

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Since the pandemic hit, human trafficking has swelled in Texas and elsewhere.

Brian Sevald

When federal authorities arrested him, Anthony Lennell Acy, 34, was keeping his victims in Room 211 at the Comfort Inn and Suites off Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway in Dallas.

He’d beat them, make them take ecstasy and forced them to have sex with customers in Texas and California, according to court documents. He’d threaten them with knives and guns. He’d promised to kill their families if they went to the police.

One of the victims, a 14-year-old girl, had run away from her home in McKinney. After she took off, she met Acy on Facebook, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice on Friday.

Acy told her he wanted to be her boyfriend and promised her the opportunity to model for his supposed clothing line. But once he got her to the hotel room, he took her phone and car keys, holding her captive along with another victim.

Meanwhile, he posted ads on several websites boasting of “various sexual activities,” showing one of the children in “scanty clothing,” according to a Homeland Security agent’s testimony. Acy forced the victims to make him $1,000 a day, authorities say.

But on Jan. 24, when Acy left the hotel room, agents swooped in and arrested him. The teenager, identified as “Jane Doe 1” in court filings, was later transferred to the Child Advocacy Center in Dallas.

The feds hit Acy with a federal child sex trafficking charge and one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.

Altogether, Acy had sex-trafficked the two victims for around a month. On Thursday, a jury took only a half an hour to deliver a guilty verdict.

“Human trafficking is one of the most degrading crimes we prosecute.” – Prerak Shah, acting U.S. Attorney

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Acy’s sentencing is scheduled to take place on Nov. 18 before U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle. He faces the possibility of a life sentence in federal prison, with a minimum of 15 years.

“Human trafficking is one of the most degrading crimes we prosecute,” acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in the news release. “Like so many traffickers, this defendant preyed on vulnerable victims, lining his pockets at the expense of their dignity,”

Ryan L. Spradlin, a special agent in charge with Homeland Security in Dallas, said his team will “vigorously pursue anyone involved” in sex trafficking.

“We will aggressively investigate these types of cases to ensure predators are identified, arrested and face the justice deserved,” he said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year, the number of sex trafficking cases in Texas has soared. According to the Texas Attorney General’s office, there are an estimated 79,000 “victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time.”

Last April, a study conducted by Polaris, a nonprofit group that seeks to end human and sex trafficking, found that sex and labor trafficking in Texas had grown by nearly 40 percent during the first few months of the pandemic.

A new law in Texas, which takes effect on Sept. 1, will make Texas one of the first states in the country to upgrade charges related to purchasing sex from a misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

“We know the demand is the driving force behind human trafficking,” said state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who authored the bill. “If we can curb or stamp out the demand end of it, then when can save the lives of numerous persons.”

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