ZEBULON, N.C. – A North Carolina man was charged with human trafficking Monday after police say he was holding a German woman against her will in a secret room at a suburban Raleigh warehouse.
Robert Whiteside, 45, was charged with sexual servitude involving an adult victim and assault by strangulation. He was being held on $250,000 bond in the Wake County jail pending a first court appearance on Tuesday.
Police and the FBI did not return messages to The Associated Press.
Zebulon Chief Tim Hayworth told The News & Observer of Raleigh it appears Whiteside and the 34-year-old Russian-born German citizen made contact through an online advertisement he posted seeking a companion. The woman said she arrived in Zebulon Wednesday, Hayworth said.
"She responded and found herself in a situation a lot worse than she expected," Hayworth said.
The woman managed to access a computer in the warehouse and emailed her ex-husband in Germany, who contacted Zebulon police Monday morning. Detectives arranged a meeting with Whiteside and were able to interview the woman when she arrived with him.
Hayworth said she told police she had been sexually assaulted her and that her money, credit cards and phone were taken from her.
Investigators went inside the warehouse where Whiteside refurbishes bathtubs and found the secret bedroom behind a closet wall, Hayworth said. Police say they also found weapons.