HUNTINGTON — A Huntington pair face human trafficking charges after a hotel worker called police Thursday when a woman told them she was being held captive and forced to perform sex work.
Anthony Wayne Ashworth, 51, was jailed at 12:20 p.m. Thursday and charged with human trafficking, transporting a controlled substance into the jail, persons prohibited from carrying firearms, assault during the commission of a felony and extortion. His bond was set at $243,000.
Whitney Nicole Burgess, 31, was jailed at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Authorities in Cabell County charged her with human trafficking, extortion and assault during the commission of a felony. Her bond was $215,000.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court, Cabell County Sheriff deputies responded Thursday to a complaint from the general manger of a hotel located in the 3000 block of 16th Street Road.
The deputies met a woman who said she had been dropped off at the location willingly a few days prior, but upon arrival the defendants took her phone and would not let her leave their hotel room. She said Ashworth, a convicted felon, had pointed a firearm at her to intimidate her into staying.
Ashworth had been convicted of murder in 1994, the complaint said, and was not allowed to be in possession of a firearm.
The victim reported she had been forced to have sex with men invited to the room by Ashworth, who would receive money for the acts. One time she saw him receive $100, the complaint said.
The victim said Burgess repeatedly struck her and physically restrained her if she tried to leave.
The complaint said she said she was able to escape with the firearm, which she took from the room for protection, to the front desk sometime Thursday morning.
Upon their detainment, both defendants denied the allegations, but provided inconsistent stories as to how they met the victim, the complaint said.
When he was searched at Western Regional Jail, the criminal complaint said, Ashworth had in a body cavity two baggies of suspected marijuana, a baggie of suspected heroin and a baggie of suspected meth.
The victim was taken to an area hospital for medical attention and for a sexual assault kit to be completed.