RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh man is accused of prostituting a teen girl out of a motel nine months after he was convicted of human trafficking.
Joseph Lewis, 35, was arrested Friday. He is charged with prostitution of a minor and human trafficking of a child.
According to warrants, Lewis is accused of using room 230 in the Knights Inn on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh to prostitute the child, who police say is a 15-year-old female. Warrants say the crimes happened Monday, and the teen was kept in “sexual servitude.”
“I got a little girl myself. That’s really upsetting and that’s really sad. I pray for that little girl,” said Lamaar Wilkerson, who was outside the motel Friday.
According to records, Lewis was charged with human trafficking of child in 2017. He was convicted in 2018 for human trafficking and sentenced to 36 months probation, according to North Carolina Department of Public Safety records.
Cristin DeRonja, the executive director of SAFEchild, advocates for victims of child sex abuse. She says trafficking cases involving children can sometimes be hard for the average person to spot.
“There is a big misconception with human trafficking, child trafficking, that you would have someone jump out and scream and cry for help, and be in a lot of distress. Unfortunately, these victims are under a lot of threats and a lot of pressures from a person that’s trafficking them,” DeRonja said.
DeRonja says people shouldn’t hesitate to report behavior that think is suspicious.
“It can be mentally and psychologically paralyzing to these victims. That’s why it’s that much more important to not worry about if you’re being nosy, don’t worry about getting in someone’s business. Pick up the phone and call the police,” she said.
Lewis is also charged with a probation violation. He’s being held on a $1.5 million bond. He’s due in court Feb. 25.
CBS 17 has reached out to RLH Corporation, which owns the Knights Inn, but hasn’t heard back.