Fla. cops: Teen led prostitution ring
Venice, Fla. — A 17-year-old recruited fellow high school students for a prostitution ring and coordinated deals on social media, charging $50 to $100 in cash and alcohol, police in Florida said.
The teen is charged with felony human trafficking after a Friday arrest in Venice, near Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name juveniles accused of crimes.
John Michael Mosher, 21, also was arrested Friday. Police say he paid $40 and a bottle of liquor to have sex with a 15-year-old girl. She did not want to participate in the sex act, according to police.
Mosher is charged with felony sexual battery on a victim older than 12. He’s being held without bond and has been ordered to have no contact with the victim or the 17-year-old.
Police Capt. Tom Mattmuller told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that a third arrest is expected Tuesday.
The alleged ring first came to light in October after four students at Venice High School told administrators that the 17-year-old — a student at Sarasota High — and a male student from their school wanted them to join, according to police. About the same time, police looked into reports of a Riverview High School student’s involvement with Mosher.
The 17-year-old and at least one other student are said to have come up with a plan over the summer to prostitute other teens for money and alcohol. Police documents indicate that the ring leader arranged for Mosher to have sex with the 15-year-old girl in a community pool shed in August.
Police say no activity took place on school property.
Students told officers that the ring leader coordinated at least three prostitution deals — including the one with Mosher — through Facebook private messaging, according to police.
Police said that a search warrant was issued for the 17-year-old’s Facebook account and that they found conversations between potential clients and participants, along with details of how the transactions would be made.