COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Two Columbia residents arrested in connection with a nationwide child sex trafficking bust were denied bond Monday in federal court.
William Jerome Gibson, 21, and Andrea Bostic, 20, are charged with sex trafficking of children by force or coercion. Gibson, who showed little emotion and slight disagreement to allegations Monday, is also charged with possession of a firearm while on state bond.
Judge Shiva Hodges denied both requests for bonds based on evidence presented in the criminal cases against the defendants and from FBI reports claiming the suspects were making phone calls from jail to accomplices telling them to watch out for police and to destroy evidence.
"It causes me grave concern, and I am astounded by the information that there are phone calls from the jail about evidence and destroying evidence," Hodges said Monday before denying bond for Bostic and Gibson.
During a hearing Monday, FBI agent Luke Davis testified that Gibson and Bostic allegedly recruited and harbored a 16-year-old girl and kidnapped a 19-year-old girl for prostitution.
The 19-year-old victim claims Gibson kidnapped her a few weeks ago, claiming she owed him $1,000. His debt was calculated by the days that went by after she said he asked her to work for him, but she denied. Davis said the 19-year-old claims she was handcuffed with zip ties, blindfolded and threatened with a gun by Gibson. This victim was never reported missing, Davis said.
The 16-year-old, whose picture appeared in an online ad on backpage.com, was reported missing by her grandmother in July. The teen was allegedly used for prostitution on three days in hotels in Columbia and Hilton Head. The 16-year-old told police she turned in all her earned money to Gibson.
Bostic, who admitted to prostituting herself for about two years, was considered in charge of the business when Gibson was not present. Davis said Bostic told police that she was in charge of taking pictures of the victims and posting them to backpage.com. Also, the phone number listed with the online ad is registered in Bostic's name, Davis said.
Attorney Debbie Chapman, who represented Gibson on Monday, said police have no connection to Gibson on backpage.com. However, Davis said the FBI has hotel receipts where Gibson paid cash for the room at Quality Inn at the time of the undercover operation, as well as a copy of his driver's license where he reserved the room.
Gibson was out on bond on four charges – murder, two counts of assault with intent to kill and discharging a firearm into a dwelling – when he was arrested in the FBI's sex trafficking bust. Judge Hodges said the fact he committed more crimes while out on bond was against his favor.
"This is a significant factor in my mind that weighs against release," Hodges said, adding Gibson has no employment history since 2011 and has applied to receive social security benefits.
Bostic cried following the hearing as she was led out of the court room. Her criminal history consists of two shoplifting charges.
"This is a serious case and a serious problem," Hodges said. "It saddens me this operation is an annual operation."
Bostic and Gibson were two of 150 arrested in the federal "Operation Cross Country VII" sting in late July. The operation helped state and federal officials rescue at least 105 children that were involved in sex trafficking in 76 U.S. cities.