Tacoma, WA – Saturday, April 18, 2009
Fort Lewis soldier charged with pimping
Prosecutors say Stryker infantryman used two teen girls as prostitutes
STACEY MULICK; firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: April 18th, 2009 03:38 AM (PDT)
Pierce County prosecutors have charged a Fort Lewis soldier with promoting prostitution, alleging he directed two teenage girls to trade sex for money.
Sgt. Sterling Terrance Hospedales, a 25-year-old infantryman, also could face federal charges in connection with the continuing investigation, said Robbie Burroughs, a spokeswoman for the Seattle FBI office.
Hospedales was arraigned Thursday on two counts of first-degree promoting prostitution and was being held in the Pierce County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. The Florida native is assigned to the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team and has been stationed at Fort Lewis since March 2005.
The case began with an investigation by the Pacific Northwest’s Innocence Lost Task Force, part of a federal initiative launched in June 2003. The local task force, with branches in Tacoma, Everett and Seattle, was established last summer.
A task force investigator came across information about a missing girl who might be in the Lakewood area. She was listed on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Web site, Burroughs said.
The tip was investigated, then passed along to the Tacoma branch of the task force and to two Lakewood police officers on the unit.
“They took this information and ran with it,” Burroughs said.
Officers with the task force found the missing girl, 16, and a second missing girl, 17, advertising prostitution services on Craigslist, the online classifieds site, charging documents state.
Officers made a date with the 17-year-old girl and met her at a local fast-food restaurant. She was with the 16-year-old girl, whom Hospedales had flown to Seattle from Wyoming, the court documents state.
The girls were detained and interviewed, the court documents state. They indicated Hospedales was their pimp and had taken and posted nude photos of them on the Internet, according to the documents.
“The females reported that Hospedales takes any money that they earn and it is put in a safe or in a drawer in his bedroom,” the documents state.
The girls said they lived with Hospedales and had their “dates” on an air mattress in the living room. Officers served a search warrant on the apartment and found an air mattress, handcuffs and other items the girls had described.
Officers said they found several threatening messages from Hospedales on the girls’ cell phones, the court documents state.
Hospedales was arrested as he left his apartment and booked into jail early Wednesday. He had an envelope containing $882 and the 16-year-old’s birth certificate with him at the time, according to the court documents.
“Hospedales told police that he thought the girls ran off with another pimp, so he took the money out of his safe so they couldn’t steal it from him,” the charging documents state.
The documents provide no details about when the girls were interviewed and where Hospedales’ apartment is.
Fort Lewis officials are aware of the charges against Hospedales, spokeswoman Catherine Caruso said Friday. The Army typically waits until the criminal case in civilian court is completed before taking action against a soldier, she said.
Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268
Originally published: April 18th, 2009 12:17 AM (PDT)