Two men arrested for sex trafficking in Chattanooga
By WRCB Staff
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Two Chattanooga men are accused of holding a young girl captive for months and treating her as a sex slave.
The two men, both 40-years-old, were arrested last week on charges involving conspiracy, kidnapping, and sex trafficking.
Corrie Gillispie (also known as Tyme, BiggtymeChattanoogatyme, and Profit Tyme) and Willie Watkins (also known as Block Baker, Soldier, and Killer) were arrested by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Chattanooga Police Department.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Gillispie and Watkins on May 17, 2016 for the charges.
The indictment said the girl was forced into Gillispie's car in August then taken to Chattanooga and held captive until December.
While many of the details are still unknown, Channel 3 is learning disturbing cases like this one are more common in Chattanooga than you might think.
"Human trafficking really is everywhere and it's hard to see, it's very hard to see," said Valerie Radu, Executive Director of the Family Justice Center, "In Tennessee in particular it's domestic, so we see a lot of human trafficking here and in East Tennessee."
Radu said each case is different, and difficult.
Rescued victims are always offered services, but Radu said it's not uncommon for some victims to refuse treatment.
"They need often substance abuse treatment, they need residential care, they need intensive counseling, intensive support services for years not just months," she said.
It's unclear how the investigation into the two suspects began.
Both men have been arrested before in Chattanooga, but for less serious charges, not relating to sex trafficking.
The exact age of the victim is also withheld, but based on the charges she's under the age of 18.
Radu said most victims in the Chattanooga area are women and children.
"Trafficking victims are often selected for their age, their vulnerability, where they are in their life, who they know," she said.
Federal agents said the victim is this case was forced to have sex for money.
It's not clear where the victim was being held, but often times, it's not in just one location.
"Traffickers often move their victims around so that they can't be found and it's harder for law enforcement to find them," Radu said, "So it could be in somebody's home, it could be in a business the next day, next week they're at a hotel. It really depends on that person."
At their initial appearances on May 27, 2016, both Gillispie and Watkins both pleaded not guilty.
They were detained pending their next appearance in U.S. District Court, which for Gillispie is a detention hearing on May 31, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. Watkins waived his detention hearing and no further court appearances have been scheduled for him at this time.
If they are convicted of kidnapping, both Gillispie and Watkins face up to life in prison.
If convicted of sex trafficking, Gillispie faces a term of not less than 15 years in prison and will be placed on the sex offender registry for a minimum of 25 years.
In Chattanooga there are several ways to report human and sex trafficking, and seek help.
The Tennessee Hotline number is 1-855-55-TNHTH The National Hotline number is 1-888-3737-888 Text 'HELP' to 233733 (BEFREE)