A New Orleans man who already stood accused of hitting a 17-year-old girl in the face with an aluminum baseball bat now faces charges that he was forcing the teenager to work for him as a prostitute in the French Quarter and online.
Lance Everson, 36, was accused Wednesday in an arrest warrant of trafficking a child for sexual purposes and pandering.
Authorities also booked Kayla Griffin, 21, who they said was working as a prostitute for Everson and tried to persuade the 17-year-old not to press charges after the incident with the baseball bat.
Officials say Everson and the victim — who turns 18 in June — were at his house in the 2800 block of Eagle Street in New Orleans on Oct. 28 when she told him she wanted to go home. He struck her in the face with the aluminum bat and refused to let her leave, telling her, “You’re mine. You know too much of my business,” according to police.
Eventually, New Orleans police arrived at the house and arrested Everson on counts of aggravated battery, false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon and possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs.
Griffin and another man later went to the 17-year-old’s daytime workplace and threatened her for reporting the incident, police said.
Griffin subsequently offered the teen $1,000 to drop the case against Everson, according to the arrest warrant, but she refused the money.
The warrant says an FBI agent and a State Police investigator interviewed the victim’s mother, who told them that her daughter had been working for Everson as a prostitute, a pickpocket and a “lookout” on Bourbon Street, which they referred to as “the track.”
The warrant says the 17-year-old told authorities that Everson sometimes acted violently toward her and that he provided her with alcohol, marijuana and unidentified pills to lessen her inhibitions. She said that when they weren’t working on Bourbon Street, they would respond to customers who reached them through ads on Backpage.com.
State Police said text messages on the victim’s cellphone captured Everson giving orders, telling the girl to “steal everything” from a customer or how much to charge others.
In one message cited in the warrant, the victim pleaded with Everson for better treatment. “I’m not asking you to be my ol’ man,” it reads. “It’s the fact that I don’t have nobody else.”
When Everson was arrested on the battery count, he was on probation stemming from a conviction on a federal weapons charge. He received a two-year prison sentence for the probation violation on March 12 and on Thursday was being detained in St. Tammany Parish, awaiting extradition to New Orleans.
Conviction on trafficking children for sexual purposes in Louisiana can carry a maximum fine of $50,000 and a prison term of between 15 and 50 years.