A Florida youth pastor has been arrested and charged with forcing four teenage boys into prostitution by telling them that they could make money modeling and threatening them if they didn't agree to have sex with male clients he met on the internet.
According to a Miami police report, Ron Cooper, who goes by the nickname "Romeo," sex trafficked four boys aged 16 to 18, who were forced to have sex for money at three different Miami-Dade County hotels and at an adult bookstore in Miami.
According to the Miami Herald, the four victims told the police that they met Cooper through a friend and he allegedly offered to pay them for modeling.
When the boys met with the photographer in a hotel room, they were instructed that they needed to engage in sex to get paid. All of the victims said that they had not engaged in sexual activities with other men before meeting Cooper.
Cooper appeared before Judge Mindy Glazer in court on Wednesday for a bond hearing, as he faces charges of human trafficking, having sex with a minor and false imprisonment, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office Human Tracking Unit.
"We have four victims in this case that have come forward. They have all made similar statements, stating that Ron has forced them to engage in sexual activity with other males against their will," a prosecutor told Glazer in court.
Cooper has also been accused of placing the boys photos on websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com and Badoo.com in order to obtain more clients. Cooper arranged for the boys to meet them at motels and the Miami Playground, an "adult mega store."
According to the police report, Cooper often met the victims at the store. The Herald reports that the boys were not only threatened and blackmailed but also drugged before they took part in the sex acts. The victims told police that Cooper even threatened to kill them.