Four Indicted in Interstate Child Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
COLUMBIA — A federal grand jury in Columbia returned a 10-count indictment charging four Columbia-area defendants in a child sex trafficking conspiracy:
The indictment alleges the following:
Between December 2022 and July 2023, the conspiracy that included Nicholson, Gary, and Perry enticed, transported, harbored, and maintained in the commercial sex trade at least three minor victims. The conspirators recruited victims who were minors and runaways, then provided lingerie, obtained photographs, and advertised minor victims on the internet for commercial sex. Members of the conspiracy communicated with customers and arranged commercial sex for customers with the minors and then confiscated proceeds. The conspiracy exercised supervision, violence, and control, including force, fraud, and coercion, to obtain commercial sex. The indictment further alleges that Nicholson and Perry travelled across state lines, and that Nicholson transported a minor from North Carolina to South Carolina, for the purposes of illegal sexual activity.
Nicholson, Gary, and Perry face a mandatory 15 years in prison, Counts faces a mandatory 10 years, and each defendant faces up to life in prison. The defendants also face life terms of supervision by the federal court following any term of imprisonment, sex offender registration, and mandatory restitution payable to victims.
United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon will preside over the case. Gary and Counts were ordered detained by United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett pending any trial or bond hearing. Nicholson and Perry will be arraigned on Jan. 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Matthew J. Perry Courthouse.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Columbia Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, West Columbia Police Department, Darlington County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Myrtle Beach Police Department, and Jefferson County (Alabama) Sheriff's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels and Ariyana N. Gore are prosecuting the case.
U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs stated that all charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Project Safe Childhood here.