In Their Own Words #3: Broken Promise

broken 4 blogJust a couple of hours into the long drive from Columbus to Florida, the young girl sensed that she had made a dangerous mistake. The 14-year-old, who had pretended to be 18, admitted her real age to the people who promised to make her a star model and asked them to return her to her extended family in Columbus. The student lived in a middle-class neighborhood with her parents in another state but had been visiting family in Columbus.

Alan Townsend was enraged by the girl's plea. According to FBI records, slapped her face and told her that he was going to keep her.

Just a few days earlier, the girl encountered Townsend and his recruiter, Courtney Shine, on a social-networking page. First came a wave of e-mails, then a cell number, and then the girl met Shine in a park. Townsend typically used Shine to make the initial contact with young girls to make them feel more comfortable.

Shine assured the girl that she would be safe and everything would be "cool" on the trip to Florida. During the drive, the girl said Townsend continued to slap her and attempted to fondle her several times.

Townsend, Shine and the girl arrived in Gainesville, Fla., on June 13 of last year.

The girl was soon given a condom and told to offer sex for $150 to the first man who walked by their cheap hotel room.

"I'm a virgin!" the girl pleaded. "I'm a virgin."

The next night, the girl again refused to solicit men in a hotel parking lot and began to cry.

"Stop being a bitch," Townsend said.

Both Townsend and Shine attempted to have sex with the 14-year-old, but she again fended them off.

Finally, after a stop in Orlando, they arrived in Daytona Beach, where the girl was able to break free and use a stranger's cell phone to call police.

The girl was unharmed and returned to Columbus. Both Townsend and Shine were arrested and recently plead guilty to sex trafficking.

Now, Townsend, who admitted to being involved with at least six other girls, is serving an eight-year prison term.

"I wasn't gonna just give up, 'cause I was like, 'I brought this girl all the way down here,' " Townsend told detectives in Florida. "I might as well get something out of it."

From The Columbus Dispatch July 28, 2009