The 19-year-old who police say was the victim of a sex-trafficking operation based in Gorham told police that she fled on March 6 after one of the suspects in the case said a pimp in Boston had offered to buy her for $30,000.
The woman, identified in a Gorham police detective’s affidavit as “P.S.,” said she was homeless in late February when she met Klein Fernandes online and the two flirted. Fernandes offered to let her live with him at 19 Woodland Road in Gorham, the home of Tamika Dias, her fiance and four children, the affidavit says.
Fernandes and Dias have each been charged with two counts of aggravated sex trafficking. Fernandes, 27, was ordered held without bail Wednesday because he is on probation for an unrelated 2008 robbery conviction. Bail for Dias, 34, was set at $20,000 cash. Each faces as much as 10 years in prison on each charge.
Jeremy Seeley, 31, who is accused of driving the woman to meet clients for sex and taking some of the money she was paid, faces two lesser charges of sex trafficking. He was released from the Cumberland County Jail on Tuesday after posting bail of $100. His charges each call for as much as a year in jail.
The 19-year-old told police that the day after Fernandes took her in, he told her she had to make money. He and Dias took pictures of her in a corset and knee-high fishnet stockings, clothing that apparently belonged to another young woman, identified only as “Cat,” who had lived in the house previously, the affidavit says.
According to the affidavit, Fernandes and Dias then posted an ad on Backpage.com, a website that includes explicit ads for “adult” services. Fernandes told the woman that she was to go on sex “dates” for $120, and would get half the money after deductions for rent, food and gas.
She told police that she received only a few dollars after the sex acts, and that she met with 15 men and one woman for sex during the two weeks before she fled. She said she told Fernandes that she wanted to stop being a prostitute and would get a job to pay rent and expenses, but Fernandes told her she had no choice, according to the affidavit.
Fernandes told the young woman several times about a pimp in Boston who had offered $30,000 for her, and showed her a picture of the pimp, according to police. Dias told her that the money would get Dias out of debt, police said, and she and Fernandes spoke of remodeling the garage at the house in Gorham so they could bring in four more women.
The woman said she wasn’t allowed to leave the house without Fernandes or Dias, but a friend helped her by picking her up after she ran away from the house. She told police she was scared after seeing the picture of the pimp and decided she had to flee after Fernandes told her he was planning to go to Massachusetts during the week of March 14 to buy heroin.
Police said Fernandes admitted to arranging “dates” for the 19-year-old but said he wasn’t a pimp because he didn’t make much money and never beat her. He also said that a man had called him about buying the young woman, but said no dollar amount was discussed.
Police said Dias admitted to taking pictures of the teenager and posting the ads online, knowing they were for prostitution, but said the only money she took from her was for gas.
Dias’ lawyer, Robert Napolitano, said Wednesday that Dias took the pictures as a favor to the young woman and accepted money from her as rent. He said he has printouts of emails from the 19-year-old’s phone suggesting that she arranged the meetings herself and set the prices.
Napolitano said the young woman was able to come and go from the house without restriction – sometimes borrowing Dias’ car – and had her own cellphone with her at all times.
“She didn’t need a pimp,” Napolitano said. “She was her own.”
Seeley said he knew the woman as “Veronica” and told police that he knew she was a prostitute, the affidavit says. He admitted to taking her to meet people for sex acts and taking some of the money she was given, but said he never arranged meetings.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: