An Augusta man faces possible indictment and trial on a charge of child sex trafficking after a judge’s ruling Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Augusta.
Charles H. Castillo must be held without bond pending further court developments, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps decided Tuesday after a preliminary hearing.
FBI special agent Charles McKee testified that an undercover agent was used Aug. 26 to investigate whether a juvenile was featured in an online ad for adult services, which constitutes prostitution. The ad showed someone wearing lingerie and a bandana over the lower half of her face, McKee testified.
A date was arranged for a $120 “donation.” The payment wasn’t optional, however. When officers and agents arrived at the Augusta home, they found Castillo, his girlfriend and a 16-year-old girl who was featured in the ad, McKee testified.
They also found evidence of prostitution, such as a written script for what to say to people responding to the ad, including how much was expected to be paid. They also found detailed written instructions for the girl on what to do on dates, McKee testified.
Defense attorney Michael Garrett extrapolated on the agents’ inability to immediately learn the teen’s age. If they couldn’t tell how old she was, then there couldn’t be probable cause to believe Castillo should have known her age, he said.
The magistrate judge sided with Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Greenwood on the issue – the standard is that the suspect knew or proceeded in reckless disregard of the female’s age. Evidence existed to indicate the girl was underage – someone was so concerned that the girl in the photograph was underage that he alerted the FBI, and the bandana and lack of identification on the girl indicated efforts to conceal her age, the judge said.