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Palm Beach County Residents Charged with Sex Trafficking of Minors

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced Rashad Emon Clark, 33, and Mandi L. Bowman, 22, both of Pam Beach County, were indicted on February 16, 2012 on sex trafficking charges. Bowman has been ordered detained pending trial. A pre-trial detention hearing is scheduled for Clark for next Friday, March 2, 2012.

More specifically, the indictment charges Clark with sex trafficking of children and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, and inducing a minor to engage in commercial sex act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1591, 1594 and 2422, respectively. Bowman is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594. If convicted, Clark and Bowman face a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison.

This case stemmed from an investigation into a website that advertised escort services. During the investigation, an undercover officer, posing as a client, contacted a minor female on the site and arranged to meet the minor for a commercial sex act. When the officer and the minor met at a motel in West Palm Beach, the officer told the minor that he was a police officer and not a client. The minor told the officer that she was working as a prostitute for Clark and that Bowman had assisted in setting up the website advertisement. The minor also said that Bowman helped teach her how to schedule appointments and negotiate prices.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the West Palm Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lothrop Morris.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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