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‘Crimes against children are vile’: N.C. man sentenced for forcing minors into prostitution in Myrtle Beach area

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 12:27 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – A North Carolina man will spend over 20 years in federal prison after he admitted to bringing minors to Myrtle Beach and forcing them into prostitution.

Johnny Thomas of Durham pleaded guilty to coercing minors to engage in prostitution in the Myrtle Beach area and other areas.

RELATED COVERAGE | North Carolina pair charged, accused of child sex trafficking in Myrtle Beach area

The case began when Myrtle Beach police officers interviewed a 15-year-old runaway who reported that she was a victim of human trafficking.

The investigation revealed that sometime in March 2019, Thomas, the 15-year-old, a 16-year-old and others traveled from North Carolina to the Myrtle Beach area for the purpose to engage in prostitution.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of South Carolina said even though Thomas knew the two victims were minors, he would take pictures of them, create online advertisements for sex and forcing them to engage in sexual acts for money.

“According to one of the minor victims, Thomas told her he would sell her to someone worse – who would do things like slice off her toes – if she did not perform commercial sex acts,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

During Thomas’ sentencing, the victim provided a statement to the court that said she still had night terrors and looks over her shoulder everywhere she goes and felt “disgusting, used, worthless, [and] empty.”

“Crimes against children are vile, indefensible, and can create lifelong victims,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis. “We are fortunate that our federal, state, and local partners share our commitment to thoroughly investigate these cases, provide services to the affected victims, and prosecute those who engage in this reprehensible conduct.

The judge sentenced Thomas to 21 years and 8 months in prison. Following his time in prison, he will court-ordered supervision for the rest of his life. He is also ordered to pay restitution to his victims.

A co-defendant in the case, 25-year-old Becca Mills, pleaded guilty to a charge related to concealing Thomas’ crimes. She will be sentenced at a later date.

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