A man and a woman have been charged with human trafficking after an investigation revealed the two were forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution, according to the Howard County Department of Police.
Detectives received a tip May 31 that a man was offering sexual services with a teenage girl for money at motels in the Jessup area. They later identified the man as 28-year-old Andre Lamar Russell, according to a news brief released by the department.
On June 1, officers saw Russell with 23-year-old Heather Lyn Harding at a motel in the Jessup area. Detectives responded and located a 16-year-old girl in their motel room. Russell and Harding were arrested.
Police believe Russell and Harding coordinated prostitution appointments and forced the teen to perform sex acts for money, which Russell would take for himself. They believe Russell also placed ads on the website Backpage, known to be used for prostitution, advertising sexual services with the victim.
Police transported the victim to a child advocacy center for appropriate housing and other services.
Russell and Harding were charged with human trafficking of a minor. Russell is being held at the Howard County Detention Center without bond. Harding was released on $35,000 bond.
Detectives continue to investigate Russell and Harding for other connections to additional victims.