More criminal charges are expected against the alleged operators of two separate prostitution operations in central Maine that authorities say they uncovered Thursday.

Frederick Horne Sr., 46, and his son Frederick Horne Jr., 19, both of Sidney, were cited Thursday on misdemeanor charges of sex trafficking after police searched their West River Road home.

In a separate case, Gretchen Patrick, 51, of Augusta, was charged with sex trafficking in connection with an escort service run out of a Litchfield mobile home.

Lt. Aaron Hayden of the Maine State Police and Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Friday that further charges could result from the investigation.

Evidence that could lead to drug-related charges was found at both locations, Hayden said. Hayden said there’s evidence for a felony drug charge at the Hornes’ property and that the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency is still investigating.

“We want to be sure we’re looking at all the information before we decide on final charges,” Maloney said Friday. “We could have asked the court for arrest warrants based on what we had up until today, but now that we have the information from the search warrant, that gives us the ability to zero in on what the correct charges are. We have more evidence now.”

Maloney said it is possible that charges of engaging a prostitute could be filed against clients of both locations based on seized ledgers and interviews with women.

In addition to sex trafficking and drug charges, there could also be financial charges filed against those involved, according to state police.

“We know some of the people involved receive state benefits and there is some underreporting of income,” Hayden said. “We’re going to look at all of that.”

The nearly two-year investigation into alleged prostitution operations began when state and Augusta police received several complaints, Hayden said.

“The quick sting is not what we’re going for,” Hayden said. “We want to make sure these women were protected in some sort of fashion and help them get some advocacy.”

‘I’M NOT ZUMBA’

Standing outside the 2874 W. River Road house Friday, Frederick Horne Sr. said what he was doing wasn’t wrong and denied that any of the women were there against their will.

“These girls are like my family,” Horne said, saying that 12 to 15 women stay at the house, but not all at the same time. “If I had people here against their will, you think I’d be as open about all this as I am? There’s nobody here against their will.”

At least a half-dozen women were at the house Thursday when police arrived to search it. All were interviewed but not charged.

“It may be illegal, but you know what, a place like here where it doesn’t bother anybody, for one thing, and morally, I have my faith, too, and it may not be right, but it’s like anybody else – they have the right to walk by a church or to walk into it,” Horne said. “It’s the United States of America. It’s supposed to be a free country​.”

He said the women working for him range from 20 to 48 years old, and said that several had difficult childhoods.

Finding women with rough childhoods is common practice for sex traffickers, according to Destie Hohman Sprague, program director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“The reality is the majority of victims of sex trafficking have really tough backgrounds and we find that traffickers prey on that,” she said Friday. “Victims come from such trauma and instability and this appears at first to be an opportunity for stability where they didn’t previously have any.” She said traffickers use that “as part of the coercion.”

“That’s what makes it hard for the victims to leave,” she said. “They don’t know what their other alternatives are.”

Hohman Sprague said Maine has seen a rise in call volume on the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline, a phone line for everything from crisis to general information.

Hohman Sprague blamed some of the rise in sex trafficking in the state to its profitability. “You can sell a person’s body multiple times,” she said.

Horne’s Sidney residence has been advertised as the site of the Adam & Eve escort service, which in ads has described providing adult entertainment and “in/out calls.” Authorities have said Patrick operated Sarah’s Place, which has also advertised adult entertainment.

Horne said Friday that no client list was kept, and said in most cases he didn’t know clients’ names.

“I don’t keep track of names. I’m not Zumba,” Horne said, referring to the Kennebunk prostitution operation that was based in a Zumba studio and kept detailed client logs and video.

WATERVILLE INCIDENTS

Waterville police dealt with Frederick Horne Sr. back in 2005 and early 2006 when Horne’s business, Gentleman’s Choice, was on College Avenue and then moved to 90 Main St. downtown.

Billed as an exotic rubdown parlor, Gentleman’s Choice was on the second floor above what was then a CVS pharmacy and now houses Northern Mattress & Furniture. Police got many complaints from downtown businesspeople who said Gentleman’s Choice did not fit in with the image downtown officials were trying to portray.

At one point in 2005, 16 women worked at Gentleman’s Choice. Horne Sr., then 38, said the women rented rooms from him to do rubdowns, dancing and lap dances, but he said that no prostitution took place. He said the women paid him a percentage of the money they earned. 

Jesse Scardina can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jessescardina

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17