Prostitution ring uncovered

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cleveland man receives $1 million bond

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

The alleged actions of Cleveland, Ohio resident Cory Locke were the focus of a bond hearing Thursday afternoon in District Judge Bob Armstrong’s courtroom.

Earlier this month, Locke was arrested and charged with running a juvenile prostitution sex ring in Selma, said assistant district attorney Shannon Lynch. Bond is set at $1 million.

As Locke sat quietly at the defendant’s table, Lynch questioned Officer Jeffrey Hardy and Detective Harry Tubbs of the Selma Police Department.

According to court testimony, the officers were on patrol on Highland Avenue July 6 when they encountered a 16-year-old female crying and pleading to go home. The teen girl later stated she and a 21-year-old female were in Selma “to perform sex acts, to dance in clubs, basically do prostitution” under Locke’s supervision, Hardy testified.

“Mr. Locke took porn pictures for commercial business,” Hardy said. “He made the girls have sex with him and other men for himself … his personal gain.”

Hardy later added both females hail from Cleveland, were brought to Selma against their will and stayed at an area hotel. After acquiring a search warrant for Locke’s laptop computer, officers said they uncovered a pornographic website ran by Locke featuring the two young women in Selma and other females.

Photos of the two young women were shown to Judge Armstrong, one featuring the 16-year-old showing her breasts and turning her head away from the camera lens. Another photo displayed the 16-year-old “tongue kissing” another female,” Hardy said.

Once Selma officers interviewed the young women, both said they were frightened of Locke and feared for their lives as well as the lives of their families back in Ohio. Apparently, Locke has strong criminal connections in Ohio, Hardy said.

Currently, both young women are in a safe place and their families have been contacted, Hardy said.

Vying for the $1 million bond to stick, Lynch said Locke has an extensive crime history, citing sexual offenses, kidnapping, assault and drug possession charges

back in Ohio. Lynch also stressed Locke may be a flight risk and presented three forms of identification Locke was carrying with him at the time of his arrest. Each ID card listed a different name. While Locke has no connections to Selma, Lynch wants him off the city’s streets.

“I don’t have a guarantee Ohio will take care of its business. I need Selma to take care of its business,” she said. “He has no ties to Selma except he likes to sell kids.”

“The nature of the charges you’ve got against you are almost unbelievable really,” Armstrong said after reviewing the evidence presented. “It’s really beyond belief. What you’ve done is wrong if the allegations are true.”

“(The young women) have been scarred for life.”

Locke will make his second court appearance Aug. 10.

“We will continue to take a hard line on criminals who hurt and abuse kids,” said District Attorney Michael Jackson.