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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

October 26, 2010 at 11:06 AM

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Former Lewis-McChord soldier sentenced for pimping girls

Posted by John de Leon

A former Army sergeant based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a child and attempted sex trafficking of a child.

Sterling Hospedales, 26, pleaded guilty to the charges in July.

Prosecutors say Hospedales set up one juvenile in a Lakewood apartment to work as a prostitute and had a second juvenile flown in from Wyoming to do the same.

The investigation began in April 2009 when Lakewood police were alerted to a juvenile runaway from the Seattle area who was posting ads on Craigslist indicating she was a prostitute. Investigators from the Innocence Lost Task Force, a federal task force targeting sex trafficking of children, located and interviewed the girl and a second juvenile.

The first juvenile ultimately admitted that she worked as a prostitute out of an apartment Hospedales had obtained for her, and that Hospedales had helped her post the advertisements for prostitution on Craigslist. She also provided the money she earned from prostituting to Hospedales.

The second juvenile had flown to the area from Wyoming with a plane ticket paid for by Hospedales.The second girl stated that she had only been in town a week, and had taken pictures to post on Craigslist for prostitution purposes, but had not started earning money.

Hospedales was involved in recruiting the Wyoming girl and posting the advertisements on Craigslist, prosecutors said. Hospedales was arrested as he left the Lakewood apartment he had rented for the juveniles.

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