FORT LAUDERDALE – (CBS4) - A man accused of pimping a teen girl and paying for advertisements selling her sexual services on the Internet is now behind bars facing a federal child trafficking charge for promoting the teen’s prostitution.
The Tamarac man identified as 34-year-old Leighton Martin Curtis is being held in Broward County’s main jail. Formal charges will be brought before him in court Monday. That’s when he’s expected to enter a not guilty plea, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported quoting his lawyer Robert Gershman.
“It would be premature to speak further on the case without reviewing the evidence,” Gershman told the newspaper.
Police say Curtis used his credit card to pay for website advertisements that sold a 17-year-old girl for sex. The girl whose initials are K.P. told officials that in her efforts to help a 15-year-old girl she came to know Curtis.
She told officials that she met the girl in San Diego where they both worked as prostitutes.
Text messages between Curtis and K.P. allegedly described prostitution activity, prosecutors and the FBI have said.
Authorities also say that Curtis drove the 17-year-old girl to meet with a customer who paid $300 for sex – she then gave Curtis the money.
When the 15-year-old girl and the 17-year-old girl decided to run away from Curtis, he chased them. They ended up inside a hotel guest’s room at El Palacio Hotel in Oakland Park where the guest called police.
On March 18th, authorities arrested Curtis. The 17-year-old girl was taken into custody.
Curtis has since appeared before a bond court judge and said he was a self-employed air conditioning handyman who receives about $1,600 per month.
The maximum penalty Curtis faces, if convicted, is life imprisonment with a $250,000.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel contributed to this report)