A Baton Rouge woman accused of running a sex trafficking business from her home, and prostituting a minor in the process, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges.
Kellie M. Dominique, 36, of Baton Rouge, is accused of running a prostitution business from various locations in Baton Rouge in 2013, and advertising it on a website called backpage.com, said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, in a news release.
Dominique was the third person indicted for jointly running the sex trafficking operation, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said Wednesday.
The minor girl and others used the website to promote and take part in Dominique’s business, the indictment says. Jeremie J. Tate, 32, and Roxanne R. Merritt, 21, allegedly conspired together and with others to promote the prostitution business.
Green said it took roughly two years to indict Dominique because of the challenges involved in investigating sex-trafficking cases.
“Sometimes these cases are really difficult,” Green said. “Sometimes the victim does not want to corroborate.”
In 2013, Dominique recruited, enticed and harbored the minor, who lived with her, knowing the girl was not yet 18 years old, with the purpose of having her “engage in commercial sex acts,” the document says.
Dominique used text messages with the girl to set up prostitution sessions and to discuss earnings from these sessions, the document says, citing four dates:
On Aug. 5, 2013, Dominique told the girl that she hoped she had earned money by prostituting herself, to which the girl replied she expected to receive proceeds soon.
On Aug. 25, 2013, Dominique asked the girl if she was still willing to perform in an upcoming prostitution session at Dominique’s home. The girl said she would and Dominique could use the payment to pay for both of their cellular phone bills.
On Aug. 27, 2013 and Sept. 2, 2013, the two again exchanged similar text messages.
In addition, Dominique lied to government officials during the investigation and “corruptly influenced potential witnesses” between September and December 2013, the document says.
Dominique was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Baton Rouge-based Middle District on one count each of sex trafficking of a minor, attempted sex trafficking of a minor and obstruction of justice, and four counts of using an interstate facility (telephones) in aid of racketeering. Green said she was booked Friday.
Green could not say whether they expected to make any more arrests.
“That’s all we have right now, but it’s a continuing investigation,” he said.
The FBI New Orleans Division, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Louisiana State Police and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Narcotics Division, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and other law enforcement agencies are still investigating the case, the news release says.
This case is part of the nationwide initiative Project Safe Childhood, launched in 2006, to combat the sexual exploitation of children, the news release says.