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A Wilson man will spend more than 13 years in federal prison for the sex trafficking of a teenage girl.
U.S. District Court Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced 39-year-old Kenneth Corvon Ward in a New Bern federal courtroom Thursday. After he serves an active sentence, he will also be subject to five years of supervised release.
Ward had previously pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and aiding and abetting, according to U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon’s office.
“This case represents just how low some among us will go to victimize others, for personal gain and for profit,” Higdon said in a statement. “Today’s 13-plus-year sentence is a small comfort for the young victim, but it should send a message to those who victimize our children that we will not allow it.”
In December 2015, the FBI and the Raleigh Police Department investigated the sex trafficking case of a minor.
Agents identified a young girl who was reportedly being sexually exploited by several people, including Ward, officials said.
William Maurice Saddler, who was convicted by a federal jury in November 2017, began an illicit dating relationship with the victim when she was 13 or 14, prosecutors said. Saddler forced the girl into prostitution at migrant camps around Wilson when she was 15 years old. He is expected to be sentenced for his role in the crimes in June and faces 15 years to life in prison.
Saddler used “violence, fear, and manipulation to force the victim to continue prostituting to support” his crack cocaine habit, prosecutors said. And Ward was Saddler’s crack supplier.
Ward, along with his girlfriend, 23-year-old Yadyra Marlene Brown, met the young victim in September or early October of 2015 and began prostituting her, according to prosecutors.
Ward and Brown promoted the 15-year-old victim by posting advertisements on Backpage.com, officials said. Ward and Brown also took multiple photographs of the victim for those ads. Ward kept money the victim earned, too.
On Dec. 5, 2015, Raleigh police determined Ward and Brown were prostituting the victim in a Garner hotel room. That’s when police and FBI agents executed an operation to rescue the victim, prosecutors said.
Authorities found the victim there with Brown.
Ward, who was seen at the hotel, fled but was later arrested. In August 2017, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and was sentenced to roughly 3 ½ years in prison with five years supervised release.
“I want to thank agents of the FBI and NCSBI and officers of the Raleigh Police Department, the Wilson Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work and for their commitment to fighting those who would traffic our children,” Higdon said in a statement.
Two others involved in the sex trafficking case include 41-year-old Bobby Ray Williams Jr. and 40-year-old Temeeka Neshaune Honey.
Honey, who previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor, was sentenced in April to a five-year and one-month prison term.
Williams, who previously pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Williams and Honey will both be required to register as sex offenders at the end of their active prison terms.