News Release: U.S. Dept. Of Justice
July 16, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Christine Thurman, 29, of Tallahassee, was sentenced to 126 months in prison yesterday, to be followed by 20 years of supervised release, for sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to transport a minor for prostitution. The sentence was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
During her guilty plea on January 15, 2015, Thurman admitted that, between November 2013 and May 2014, she knowingly conspired with others to transport an individual less than 18 years of age for prostitution. This sex trafficking organization posted online advertisements offering underage girls as escorts. Upon discovering the advertisements in January 2014, an undercover investigator attempted to arrange a meeting at a local motel with a girl featured in one of the online ads. While surveilling the motel, investigators observed Thurman leave a motel room adjacent to the room where the undercover investigator had arranged to meet the minor. Investigators then obtained documentation indicating that Thurman had been involved in the payment for both motel rooms. When investigators obtained access to the rooms, they found evidence of prostitution, Thurman’s and the victim’s personal belongings, and an online advertisement offering escort services under Thurman’s alias. Investigators were also able to establish that Thurman was connected to prepaid debit cards that had been used to pay for online advertisements offering minors as escorts. In May 2014, investigators discovered another online advertisement featuring another underage victim, whom Thurman had transported from Georgia to Tallahassee, and Thurman was arrested.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tallahassee Police Department, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, whose joint investigation led to the charges in this case. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric K. Mountin.
“The safety and well-being of our children is a top priority for this U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Marsh. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases to protect the community and children, who are our most innocent victims. Great praise is deserved by all of our law enforcement partners who contributed to the success of this investigation.”
“HSI remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of society, our youth,” said Susan L. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Tampa. “This sentencing is the result of the hard work of HSI, FBI, Tallahassee Police Department, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, working together to make our communities safer.”
August 27, 2014
By Julie Montanaro
A man and woman accused of trafficking teenagers for sex in Tallahassee are now facing federal charges for it.
Derek Reddick and Christine Thurman were arrested in May and accused of prostituting a 16 year old at a North Monroe Street motel.
A federal grand jury recently indicted the pair for the sex trafficking of children. According to the district clerk's office, they are set for trial October 14th and face 10 years to life if convicted.
Upated By:Emily Johnson
May 27, 2014 10PM
Derek Reddick and Christine Thurman now face several felony charges including human trafficking.
Tallahassee Police tell us it started Friday at the La Quinta Inn, when officers busted into a hotel room and found a naked 16-year-old girl and a nearly naked man. That man told police he answered an ad on a website Backpage.
"We are aware of the BackPage.com website and the only thing I would say to anybody who's using it is that they should be aware that we are aware that the backpage site does exist and if you're using it for illegal activity you should probably stop because it may be a cop at the other end of the line," said Dave Northway, TPD Spokesperson.
People we spoke with as you can imagine were disgusted, but not surprised to hear of the incident.
"That makes sense I suppose because technology is being used for pretty much everything," said Alex Rathvon, Tallahassee Resident.
"It's not approriate to be having that done and I really think that something should be done about that," said Kelvin Green, Tallahassee Resident.
As for people working to stop human trafficking, they said the issue is even tougher to tackle now more than ever.
"To recognize this activity where it's occuring, which is really behind the scenes. It's no longer such a street corner crime, it's far more of an internet organized crime," said John Robertson, Florida Network Of Youth And Family Services.
Two people are accused of trafficking teenage girls for sex in Tallahassee.
The man and woman are the first in this area to face charges of human trafficking under a new and tougher law.
Tallahassee Police burst into a room Friday at the La Quinta Inn on North Monroe Street to find a nude 16 year old and a naked man in a towel. He told police he answered an ad on "Backpage" and paid 120 dollars for 30 minutes - not for sex, he said, but that was understood.
Derek Reddick and Christine Thurman are now facing multiple felonies for it, including human trafficking. The teen says Thurman told her mom she would be babysitting in Destin.
"This is a heinous crime," Tallahassee Police Spokesman David Northway said. "It is terrible that we are taking advantage of our victims and children this way and it needs to stop."
Arrest papers say it is not the first time Reddick and Thurman profited from prostituting a minor.
Arrest papers say the investigation started in January. An undercover officer responded to a Backpage ad and discovered a 17 year old missing from South Florida at the Super 8 Motel at 2801 North Monroe Street.
Arrest papers say her room and the one next door were paid for by Reddick and Thurman and officers found a list in the trash which detailed profits of up to 450 dollars a day.
Those who work to stop human trafficking say no one should be surprised this is happening in Tallahassee or anywhere else along I-10.
"They'll move them from location to location," said John Robertson with the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, "and they're doing forward advertising through resources online trying to establish a clientele and a base for their arrival."
It's not clear yet whether there are any other teenage trafficking victims in this case or if there is anyone else involved in recruiting the teens and posting the Backpage ads
"We're working to identify through further investigation," said Ralph Bradley with Homeland Security Investigations, "Is this a one time opportunity, are we dealing with individuals that recruit young women?"
Reddick is being held without bond in Tallahassee. Thurman was arrested in Thomasville and will be brought to Tallahassee to face charges. Human trafficking is punishable by up to life in prison.
Tallahassee Police reports say Backpage is the one who alerted authorities to the picture of what appeared to be an underage girl on its site.
Tallahassee Police Spokesman David Northway says investigators are aware of the Backpage.com web site. "The only thing I would say to people using them is that they should be aware that we are aware that the Backpage site does exist and if you are using it for illegal activities you should probably stop because it may a cop on the other end of the line."
State Attorney Willie Meggs says he wants to see a crack down on prostitution on North Monroe Street in the wake of these arrests and a murder at the Econolodge earlier this month.
"We've got to kinda crack down out there," Meggs said. "We don't want North Monroe Street to become the Orange Blossom Trail of Tallahassee.