BALTIMORE — A man who forced a 15-year-old girl to perform sex acts with clients at motels in Elkton and Newark, Del., was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison Friday in a human trafficking case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar imposed the 25-year sentence on Steven M. Williams, 39, of Delaware, after he had pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud, and coercion, federal prosecutors reported.
The judge ordered Williams to serve 10 years of supervised probation after his prison release and to register as a convicted sex offender, which will allow police and residents to keep tabs on him.
Elkton Police Department detectives started their investigation leading to the arrests of Williams and his two accomplices on July 14, 2017, after receiving a report that two men and a woman had forcibly removed a teenage girl from the Knights Inn at 262 Belle Hill Road in Elkton, near the Interstate 95 exchange, at about 2 a.m. July 13, a day earlier, and drove away with her in the vehicle, police reported.
Last month, one of Williams’ co-defendants — Harry Eugene Rivers Jr., 29, of Delaware — was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, after he had pleaded guilty to six trafficking. The judge ordered Rivers, whose nicknames include “Pots” and “Hakeem,” to serve five years of supervised probation after his prison release.
The other co-defendant, Jessica L. “Tutti” Schaefer, 24, of Pennsylvania, is awaiting her June 6 sentencing after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child for her role in the human trafficking operation.
“Children cannot consent to have sex for money. Human traffickers such as Steven Williams compel their victims to work for little or no compensation, often using violence and threats to force their victims to engage in prostitution,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur commented in a written statement Friday after Williams’ sentencing.
He added, “This lengthy sentence should send a powerful message that sex trafficking will not be tolerated in Maryland. Through the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, law enforcement is working with nonprofit organizations to help human trafficking victims and prosecute the traffickers. Working to end human trafficking is a priority for the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
According to Williams’ plea agreement, the teen, a Pennsylvania resident who lived with her father in Delaware, engaged in “commercial sex acts” with men in Delaware, along with Schaefer, who had posted ads of herself for prostitution purposes. Shaefer had met the teen at a Delaware motel, and they worked together as prostitutes, prosecutors noted.
Williams, whose nicknames include “Brother Ray,” responded to one of those ads posted on Backpage.com and determined that Schaefer and the teenage girl, who had recently completed the eighth grade, would work for him, prosecutors reported.
Prosecutors said Williams provided Schaefer and the girl with crack cocaine, putting them in debt to him. The girl and Schaefer then engaged in commercial sex acts to pay off their debt to Williams, prosectors added.
“(The girl) and Schaefer gave any proceeds earned from performing commercial sex acts to Williams. To facilitate the commercial sex acts, Williams rented hotel rooms in his name or the names of men paying for the commercial sex acts, and Harry Rivers provided narcotics to the females and their customers and helped to arrange ‘dates’ for the females,” federal prosecutors outlined.
￼￼In July 2017, Williams drove the teen from Delaware to Elkton, separating her from Schaefer.
“(The girl) woke up in a motel (Knights Inn) in Elkton with another adult sex worker. At Williams’ direction, (the adult sex worker) posted an ad featuring a picture of (the girl) on a website used to advertise and solicit for commercial sex, including the sexual exploitation of minors,” prosecutors reported.
While at that Elkton motel, the girl “performed commercial sex acts and gave the monies she earned to Williams,” according to prosecutors, who further reported that “Williams physically abused the teen when he thought she was not giving him all the money she earned and also displayed his firearm.”
The girl escaped from her motel room on July 13, 2017 and hid in the adult sex worker’s nearby room, police reported.
“Williams, Rivers, and Schaefer traveled from Newark to Elkton to bring (the girl) back to Delaware, to ensure that she did not leave Williams’ employ. Williams and Rivers each had a firearm, which they used to threaten (the adult sex worker), demanding that she produce (the girl). Schaefer had a taser, which she ignited, barged into the room and took the girl from the room against her will,” prosecutors said.
Williams and his accomplices drove the teen back to Delaware and settled in at the Red Roof Inn on South College Avenue in Newark, so she could continue to engage in commercial sex acts, according to prosecutors.
On July 14, 2017, a day later, the adult sex worker reported the abduction to EPD, prosecutors said. Investigators found the girl at that Newark motel, where they rescued her and later arrested the suspects, prosecutors added.