Van Lawson Williams of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation allegedly revealed that he had been forcing minor runaways into prostitution, according to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Floirda. Willaims, 49, was arrested and booked into federal prison on charges of sex trafficking of minors. Investigators reportedly believe that he prostituted out at least two victims and attempted to prostitute out another two, who refused to comply. If convicted as charged, Williams could reportedly face up to a lifetime prison sentence. It is unclear whether he has retailed a criminal defense lawyer.
According to news reports, the investigation into Williams’ alleged sex crimes was conducted by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and the Minor Vice Task Force. It is unclear exactly how long the investigation lasted. According to the criminal complaint released by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida, the arrest took place at William’s residence, located on 30th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Williams was reportedly uncooperative with officers, at first not answering the door, then answering but waving his arms around. He allegedly struck two officers before being placed under arrest, although he was not charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
Inside of the residence, investigators reportedly found a 16-year-old girl identified only as G.D., who had reportedly been missing since July 2011. The girl reportedly told investigators that she met Williams when she was 15 and that she started living in his home thereafter. Williams, who allegedly knew how old the victim was, is accused of prostituting her out dozens of times over the course of the year. Williams allegedly received $20-$30 from Johns for use of the bedroom along with an additional $100 for the sexual intercourse with the victim. Afterwards, Williams allegedly split the $100 prostitution fee with the victim. The victim also alleged that Williams was physically abusive towards her and that she had sex with him “on his demand” on several occasions.
The mother of another girl, who is referred to only as R.T. in the complaint, was also interviewed after the first victim told authorities that the girl was also prostituted out. R.T.’s mother allegedly confirmed that her daughter was prostituted out by WIllaims in early 2012 after R.T. had fled from home. The mother alleged that after R.T. left, she received a call from Willaims, who allegedly told her that he was looking after the girl. The mother reportedly answered that R.T. was 14 and that he had “no business being with her.”
Two weeks later, R.T. reportedly told her mother about the prostitution, saying that Willaims was bringing men to his home and receiving money from them in exchange for R.T. performing sex acts with the. R.T. also alleged that she had had sex with Williams on several occasions, that he had been physically abusive with her, and that he had given her and the other girls drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.