GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Florida State Attorney's Office saying today that a 2-year-long joint investigation, which included the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, and various local agencies including the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, has resulted in the arrest of nine people across the state, including three from North Central Florida.
The victim, who remains unidentified, was prostituted by an unidentified person who served in a parental or caregiver role, often from a home in Brooksville.
"All the carpeting was removed so it was bare cement, there was a lot of animal urine and animal feces," said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
Jason Michael Raulerson, 46, of High Springs, Shawn Christopher Henson, 39, of Newberry, and Lawrence Edward Kemble, 70, of Ocala were arrested along with six other men in a state-wide sting.
An arrest affidavit, which is attached to this article, details text messages and investigation results.
Deputies say Henson even sent the victim a picture of his own daughter over text. He allegedly met the victim on different occasions at the Quality Inn in Chiefland.
Kemble referred the victim to other men using websites, texting her, "told them u r the bomb and a sweetheart."
Raulerson met the girl four to five times at the home in Brooksville, paying the guardian 120 to 140 dollars each time.
Raulerson owns an agricultural consulting business in High Springs.
"It is not unusual to have individuals right here in the United States that are forced into this type of activity," Nienhuis said.
The others arrested included Luigi Barile and Matthew Christopher Doyle of Spring Hill, Joseph Andrew Easton of Inverness, Bryan Joseph Giguere of Homosassa, James William Hancock of Delray Beach, and Latchman Kaladeen of Wesley Chapel.
Barile is the owner of the popular Chefs of Napoli restaurant, which has locations across Central and North Central Florida.
The investigation started two years ago, when the Hernando County Sheriff's Office got a tip about an online add offering a minor for sex.
That minor was rescued within 24 hours of the report and has been assisting law enforcement since to identify her traffickers the men who abused her.
"This human trafficking investigation began with an anonymous tip. A brave individual who saw a child in trouble and reported it to law enforcement," said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. "Because of that tip, exceptional law enforcement work and legal support form our statewide prosecutors, the victim was rescued and those responsible are behind bars."
That minor is and recovering at an undisclosed shelter that specializes in providing trauma-informed care for children that have survived sex trafficking.
According to Sheriff Nienhuis, the victim is back in school, playing piano and considering a career in social work to help others who have undergone similar experiences.
"We know that the best way to stop it, and the best way to go after those people doing this, is for people like you that are in the community to remain alert, and aware, and know the sign," Moody said.
Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Julia Sercus is prosecuting the case.