Identities of three young victims alleged to have been forced to work and trafficked by a Pineville man will be kept concealed after a protective order was granted last week.
Both the prosecution and defense agreed to the motion, which U.S. Magistrate Judge H.L. Perez-Montes signed on Dec. 2. This motion and others later were transferred to U.S. District Judge Dee Drell, who granted them on Monday.
Darnell Fulton, 36, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Lafayette in mid-July on eight counts, including allegations that he trafficked for sex two of the female victims younger than 16, that he subjected all three to physical violence, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, withholding of food and forced them to bake brownies to sell with daily quotas.
The other victim was younger than 12, according to the indictment. Fulton allegedly took the children out of school and waterboarded them, too.
The alleged abuse happened “in the Western District of Louisiana and elsewhere,” according to the indictment.
The protective order was requested because U.S. attorneys said it would be too difficult to redact the victims’ names from items handed to Fulton’s defense attorney during discovery. If the names were redacted, it might be too difficult for Fulton’s defense to know which victim was being referenced in the documents, reads the motion.
When Drell granted the motion, he wrote that the victims will be able to testify using only their first names and will not have to disclose their addresses.
Fulton was arrested on July 30 in Dallas County, Texas, the same day the indictment was unsealed. He’s been in custody since, and records show he was being held in Natchitoches Parish as of Monday.
At trial, prosecutors could bring up Fulton’s past criminal record, reads another motion filed on Dec. 3.
“Should the defendant choose to testify, the government seeks to attack his
credibility through the admission of certain portions of his criminal history,” reads the motion in limine.
According to the motion, Fulton has been convicted five times dating back to 2004 for crimes in other states — Nevada, Texas and Florida. He’s wanted on a warrant in connection to one of those cases, a 2016 money laundering conviction in Van Zandt County, Texas, in which he was placed on probation until June 20, 2021.
It’s this conviction prosecutors wish to admit into evidence if Fulton decides to testify at his trial, reads the motion.
“The basis of the conviction is, among other facts, the defendant’s possession of five forged and counterfeit checks from multiple businesses in Seattle, Washington, and
Lafayette, Louisiana,” it reads. “The Fifth Circuit has regularly observed that crimes dealing with fraud and forgery are probative on the issue of propensity to lie.”
A Jan. 13, 2021, video hearing has been set for several other motions that were filed under seal.