Couple accused of luring teen girls into prostitution

Investigators say the accused pimps coerced their young victims with the promise of big money
October 29, 2013 3:52:29 PM PDT
A man and woman are facing charges, accused of luring a child into a life of prostitution. It's a problem that experts say is pervasive in the Houston area.

Harris County investigators say Lasharae Lashelle Bennett, 19, and Christopher Lee Watson, 22, exploited three underage girls by convincing them to sell sex in exchange for money.

According to court documents, the young victims told Houston police investigators Watson and Bennett approached them as they were walking during February 2012, offering to give them a ride to a party. The girls claim Watson and Bennett soon discussed with them how much money they could gain by selling sex for money.

The girls, who were 15 and 16 at the time, say Watson and Bennett took them to the 9700 block of Bissonnet, pointed out potential customers, and gave them condoms. Investigators say Watson and Bennett instructed the girls to collect no less than $80 per sex date.

Assistant District Attorney Ann Johnson said, "Unfortunately, pimps, johns come in all ages, all genders, and so do the victims."

Johnson, the district attorney's human trafficking specialist, says crimes like this are not surprising in Harris County.

"The majority of the people that we see are domestic kids," Johnson said. "Often they run away from home. Prostitution is closely tied to life on the streets, and they may be approached within 48 to 72 hours by a pimp who is looking to take advantage of them."

Both Watson and Bennett are now facing multiple charges of Compelling Prostitution of a Minor. Additionally, Watson is facing charges of sexual assault of a child.

Both defendants are being held in Harris County Jail.

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