Three charged in sex case
Grand jury indicts on human trafficking charges; police met victim at King of Prussia hotel
A grand jury indicted two men and a woman accused of running a sex-trafficking operation after detectives set up a meeting with one of their victims at a King of Prussia hotel.
On Sept. 19, a criminal complaint was issued in district court charging 29-year-old Kashamba Jahmal John of Decatur, Georgia, with corrupt organization after a woman who said she had been lured into prostitution sought help from state police.
John’s alleged accomplices, 33-year-old Tyler Bachtel of Montclair, California, and 27-year-old Arianna “Amy” Somerville, also of Decatur, were charged with human trafficking and prostitutionrelated offenses for their alleged roles in recruiting the victim and setting up so-called “dates.”
The investigation began on Oct. 5, 2016, when a detective with the UpperMerion Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit was working on a case involving potential prostitution solicited through the escort section of the website Backpage.
The detective responded to an ad on the site and, via texts, discussed particulars about setting up a meet. A meeting was arranged at the Hampton Inn, 530 West DeKalb Pike, and the detective later received a phone call from a woman believed to be Somerville, who asked questions that seemed to be attempting to screen for law enforcement officials, according to the criminal complaint.
When investigators arrived at the hotel room — which surveillance photos reportedly showed John checking into earlier in the day —they encountered the victim, identified themselves as law enforcement officers and offered their assistance.
The victim refused their help but reportedly told them that the people she was working for were holding her identification.
Later that afternoon, when an Uber driver was sent to pick the victim up, she reportedly told the driver she needed to stop and get a money order.
When the driver stopped and the witness was purchasing the order, the man who arranged the pickup, who authorities believe was John, called the driver and asked if police were following them.
Upon the victim’s return to the car, the driver informed her of the phone call, and as they were heading toward Philadelphia on Route 76, the victimreportedly became hysterical and asked to be taken to police.
The driver saw a state trooper on the side of the road and took the victim to him.
State police interviewed the victim, who said she was 21 and was recruited by a man she knew as “Tyler” in a nightclub in Los Angeles. She said he told her he had a partner on the East Coast she could work for and earn $12,000 per week as an escort, but she would not be required to have sex with clients.
According to the victim, arrangements were made for her to travel to Atlanta, where she met John, whom she knew as “KJ.”
She said “KJ” and “Amy” confiscated all her belongings, including her ID, and she was taken to a hotel room where men would come expecting sex.
The victim said she was expected to have sex with between 20 and 30men per day in 14-hour shifts beginning at 8 a.m. She was never allowed to keep any money and was supplied with very little or no food.
She also told police, that on one occasion, after she complained about being hungry, John plied her with alcohol and had sex with her without her consent.
The victim showed investigators boarding passes for her and John for a flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia on Oct. 5 and explained that she had no money, no ID and no way to get home.
State police began an investigation into John, who has a lengthy criminal history, including an arrest on charges of human trafficking in West Palm Beach in Feb. 2015, an arrest on charges of robbery and prostitution-related offenses in Secaucus, New Jersey, in July, 2014, and a conviction for aggravated assault in Georgia in 2009.
He also allegedly had a Facebook page that extolled the lifestyle of a pimp.
Through a review of text messages from the victim’s cellphone investigators were able to piece together a timeline of events beginning with her recruitment in California.
In the texts, she voiced her trepidation to Bachtel repeatedly, and often complained about hermistreatment, at one point telling him she was “not a slave.”
The texts also reveal that she referred to John as her “boss” and indicate that Sommerville was instrumental in arranging meetings with clientele.
In an interview with state police, Bachtel reportedly admitted to recruiting the victim to “work” for John and arranged for her initial flight to Atlanta in an attempt to repay a debt he owed him. According to court records, Bachtel’s preliminary arraignment is pending.
Somerville was arraigned in district court and remanded to theMontgomery County Correctional Facility after failing to post 10 percent of $50,000 bail.
John’s bail was set at $100,000, and he remains behind bars at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 10.