Thirteen charged during investigation of human trafficking, related crimes

Dave Clark

Dave Clark

Thirteen people were charged this week during an investigation into human trafficking, sexual exploitation of minors, and prostitution in Anderson County, authorities said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, asked Anderson County’s Seventh Judicial Crime Task Force to work with it to detect and investigate any instances of human trafficking or related crimes that might be occurring in the Anderson County area, according to a Friday press release from District Attorney General Dave Clark. Federal and state law enforcement agencies completed the investigation this week. They were helped by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Police Department, and Oliver Springs Police Department, which all provided “important and considerable manpower and assistance,” the press release said. The District Attorney General’s Office participated in planning, monitoring, and supporting the operation, the release said. “Deputies, agents, and officers worked together to set up in an area hotel posing as an illicit sexual services customer,” the release said. “This operation included approximately 24 law enforcement officers from the participating agencies. The operation was carefully monitored and video recorded, and undercover deputies, agents, and officers were positioned outside and inside the hotel. The intended targets were any individuals exploiting women, particularly vulnerable women, and profiting from their participation in the sex trade.” [Read more…]

Claxton couple arrested Sunday after robbery, prostitution investigation

Richard Paul Pressley

Richard Paul Pressley

A Claxton husband and wife were arrested Sunday after a robbery and prostitution investigation in Ben’s Mobile Home Park off Edgemoor Road, authorities said.

Around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, deputies were called to meet with a 32-year-old victim who said he had been robbed at gunpoint at a mobile home on Queen Street after replying to a advertisement for escort services, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. The victim told deputies he had met a female at the residence, and after a short time a male entered, brandished a handgun, and robbed him of cash, the press release said.

He was then tied up and left in a bedroom, authorities said. The victim was able to free himself and flee out a window.

Deputies responded and, after an investigation, the two residents of the mobile home, Lindsay Elaine Pressley, 26, and her husband, Richard Paul Pressley, 29, were both charged with several felony offenses related to the robbery as well as prostitution. [Read more…]

Children’s minister, local residents among those arrested, cited in human trafficking operation

Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

Note: This story was last updated at 2:30 p.m. May 23.

A three-day operation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and detectives with the Knoxville Police Department to combat human trafficking in Knoxville has resulted in the arrest of 32 men and women on prostitution and human trafficking-related charges. Two of the men, including a children’s minister, responded to ads for what they thought were girls under the age of 18.

TBI identified Knoxville’s Jason Kennedy, 46, as the children’s minister arrested for patronizing prostitution and human trafficking. Kennedy was a minister at Grace Baptist Church in Karns, but he has now been terminated.

The TBI said there is a warrant out on a trafficking charge for Zubin Parakh, 32, of Oak Ridge. A spokesperson at Lifehouse Church in Oak Ridge said Parakh serves as a volunteer and “creative pastor” there, according to WBIR, a Knoxville television station. The church told the television station that Parakh has never worked with children.

Grace Baptist released a statement to the media after the Friday news of Kennedy’s arrest.

“The children’s pastor of Grace Baptist Church has been terminated as as result of an arrest in a police sting related to prostitution and human trafficking,” the church said. “The actions of the children’s pastor for which he has been arrested were part of his life outside the church, and we have received no questions or concerns related to his conduct within the church or its ministries.

“The children’s pastor was hired two-and-a-half years ago. The church’s background check turned up no issues that indicate any previous problem. In fact, the children’s pastor in his application affirmed that he had no issues in his background of a criminal or other nature.

“We are praying for his family and will continue to provide the services of our ministry to them.”

Oak Ridge Today has not been able to reach LifeHouse Church for comment.

The TBI said the arrested men also include an engineer and a volunteer firefighter.

Kennedy has been charged and booked. Most of the others were charged on a citation, the TBI said. [Read more…]

DA moves to close business involved in alleged prostitution

Dave Clark

Dave Clark

Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark last week moved to declare a new business a nuisance and close it down because of its alleged role in prostitution, a press release said.

The business is King Accupressure at 2683 Andersonville Highway in Anderson County.

The enforcement action was the result of an undercover investigation by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office that started almost immediately after King Accupressure opened, Clark said in the release. He said a deputy posed as a customer and alleged in a criminal complaint that he was solicited for prostitution.

Two women were taken into custody at the scene, Clark said. [Read more…]

Sexual act offered to investigator during prostitution investigation, sheriff says

Young Hwa Park

Young Hwa Park

An employee at a spa in Anderson County offered a sexual act to a Sheriff’s Department investigator in exchange for money during an undercover prostitution investigation on Tuesday, authorities said.

Two women from Duluth, Ga., were arrested and charged with prostitution offenses, Anderson County Sheriff Paul White said in a Wednesday afternoon press release.

The investigation at the recently opened “spa” called King Accupressure on Andersonville Highway started after the Sheriff’s Department was notified by the Law Director’s Office, White said. The investigation led Sheriff’s Department officials to believe that prostitution activity was occurring, White said.

An undercover operation was conducted Tuesday, and an employee of the business offered a sexual act to an investigator in exchange for money, the sheriff said. [Read more…]

Two arrested after prostitution investigation, Sheriff’s Department says

Anderson County Detention Facility

The Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton is pictured above.

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department arrested two people Tuesday afternoon after a prostitution investigation at a recently opened spa on Andersonville Highway near Norris, Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said this morning.

The Sheriff’s Department is working with Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark on some additional enforcement action on the business, Lucas said, and more information should be released later today.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

Seven arrested in prostitution sting in Oliver Springs

Six men and one woman were arrested during a prostitution sting in Oliver Springs last week, authorities said.

The Aug. 29 joint operation was within a half-mile of Norwood Elementary and Middle School, and the bust involved the Oliver Springs Police Department and the Seventh District Crime Task Force, OSPD Chief Kenneth Morgan said in a Thursday evening press release.

“We conducted this operation with the hope of stopping a growing issue before it became a major problem,” Morgan said. [Read more…]

Now ex-ACHS teacher nabbed in Knox prostitution sting

Information from WYSH Radio

An Anderson County High School teacher was arrested this past weekend in an online prostitution sting.

Brian Dean Justice, 40, also a former assistant principal at Clinton Middle School, was arrested by Knox County Sheriff’s Department deputies Friday after he allegedly contacted a person he thought was a prostitute after answering an online ad on a website called and arranging to meet the person at a motel in Knox County. That person turned out to be an undercover deputy, and Justice was arrested and charged with patronizing prostitution. [Read more…]