MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man accused of human trafficking a 13-year-old girl was ordered held without bond at a hearing Friday, despite testimony from friends and neighbors describing him as a kind man and loving father.
“They got the wrong man. He’s innocent,” a friend of Vibert Jean said as she left the courthouse in a hurry.
Jean is one of four people charged with human trafficking in the case of a 13-year-old girl police say was forced to have sex and then made to strip for money at Club Madonna on South Beach.
“This is very clearly a charge where he profited, he harbored a young lady that was usually for commercial sexual activity,” prosecutor Christa Jane Anderson said.
On Friday, witnesses who visited or lived near the Miami home were investigators say the girl was held against her will, told the judge the runaway teen did not appear to be in distress.
“It looked like they were having a good time hanging out together,” neighbor Julio Hernandez said.
Jean’s ex-wife described him as a caring father to their 13 year old son.
When asked if she believed Jean was capable of doing something like this, she responded, “Absolutely not.”
Judge Samantha Ruiz Cohen decided to deny bond.
She said based on his criminal history and the fact that guns and drugs were found in the home, Jean should remain in jail.
Jean’s attorney says he plans to appeal.
He says his client was tricked by a 13 year old girl.
“He believes she was 18. That’s what he was told. Marlene told him the girl was 18,” defense attorney Lawrence R. Metsch said.
Another defendant in this case, Marlene San Vicente was released on house arrest.
The defense attorney now wants to know why that same privilege was not granted to his client.
If convicted, Vibert Jean faces up to life in prison.