“It’s a population of kids who, unfortunately, have been mistreated, do not have any good adult role models, and set up with bad actors who show them affection and convince them that they care about them, in some cases, and really take advantage of them,” Bundy said.
In Jacksonville, a plea agreement filed in the Middle District of Florida outlined the accusations against Hodge and how he allegedly shopped around A.B. As part of the deal, Hodge would have pleaded to one count of sex trafficking a minor, which carried a minimum of 10 years in prison, the records said. Other counts would have been dropped.
But the deal didn’t become final, and the case is ongoing. Hodge’s lawyer declined to comment.
Here is how the agreement described the business and A.B.’s role:
A.B. was part of Hodge’s massage business. His plan was simple: Recruit women willing to work for him, put advertisements out for massages and body rubs under the category of “Jacksonville Adult Entertainment,” and split the money between him and the girls.
Some meetings involved massages, typically without clothes, A.B. told investigators.
And some involved sex.
In July, Hodge met A.B. and began recruiting her.
He found her walking near the Children’s Home Society.
“That’s where you live?” he asked her.
“Yeah,” she replied, telling him she was 17, padding her real age by a year. She hoped he thought she was 18.
Hodge soon recruited her for his business.
Wilkins told The Miami Herald that the teen eventually became more than just an employee. Before A.B. left the group home, “she recruited a lot of the other girls in the home,” he said.
Like a teenager in the Miami case, identified as S.S., A.B. sought out other girls to share her plight — a development that is not uncommon in human trafficking, Shehan said. “Once they’ve recruited a victim into their confidence, they will send her back into the foster-care system to recruit other victims,” she said.
A.B. was with the Children’s Home Society because of her involvement with the juvenile justice system. But soon after meeting Hodge, she was staying in his home, instead, the plea documents said. She was there about a month.
Her first advertisement went up July 14 on Backpage.com. He called her “Daisy” and lured in potential clients with the promise of a “private massage specialist.”
The ad boasted about her willingness to travel, her professional session experience and how her hands were her best asset.
The pictures attached showed off her other assets. One showed the front of her body, one showed the side of her body, and the third showed her cleavage, the court records said. She wore heels, a short skirt and a tight tank top. They showed the many curves of her body, but all stopped before her chin. They never showed her face.
Her first job was a commercial sex act.
“I thought it was supposed to be a massage,” A.B. recalled telling Hodge.
He replied, “Well, do whatever you have to do for the money.”
The ad went up on Backpage.com, which has gotten scrutiny from across the country for hosting ads that, like with A.B., are veiled sales of girls for sex. It’s owned by Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Critics say the ads make business even easier for the pimps.