Facing felony charges of trafficking a child for sexual purposes and indecent behavior with a juvenile, a north Baton Rouge strip club operator pleaded guilty to a reduced charge after the victim and her mother refused to cooperate in the prosecution, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday.
Trudell “Squalee Pope” Richardson, 40, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and was sentenced to six months in prison, with credit for time served. He was released immediately.
Richardson was arrested last April after investigators said he auditioned a 16-year-old girl as a dancer and told her to lie about her age.
One of Richardson’s attorneys, Tommy Damico, said Tuesday he was prepared to vigorously defend his client against those allegations if the case had gone to trial Monday.
Kaylenceyia Carter, 20, also was arrested, accused of bringing the girl to the Plank Road club for an audition despite her age. Prosecutors dismissed the lone charge — trafficking a child for sexual purposes — against Carter on Monday.
Moore said the plea deal is not at all what his office desired.
“Neither the victim nor her mother wished to be involved with the case or pursue the charges against Richardson or his co-defendant. They were adamant about not pursuing these charges against our desire to prosecute these defendants as charged,” he said.
“Without the full cooperation of the victim, we were unable to prove the charges of trafficking of a juvenile beyond a reasonable doubt,” Moore added. “Due to the allegations and since the juvenile’s testimony was key to our case, we did not want to force her to testify if she was not fully cooperative.”
The arrests of Richardson and Carter came after police found a runaway teen sleeping in an unmarked strip club at 3773 Plank Road.
The girl met Richardson in the parking lot in March 2015 and told him she was 16, but Richardson told her to say she was 21 if anyone asked, according to an arrest warrant.
Richardson told the girl he would introduce her to the “money guys” and that she would have to give half her earnings to the club, the warrant states. Carter then took her inside to the dressing room to get ready, police said.
Carter and the girl then danced for Richardson and several unidentified men, who threw roughly $300 in tips at them, the warrant says.
Police received a report several hours later that the girl had been beaten.