(Hartford) A Hartford man was convicted Thursday afternoon on federal sex trafficking charges. Christopher Childs entered a guilty plea to one count of Sex Trafficking By Force, Fraud or Coercion. The federal indictment detailed four women who were forced to dance at the strip clubs for no pay and perform sexual acts for money that went entirely to Childs. The offenses in the indictment occurred starting in 2004 and continued through his arrest in March of 2018. The offense’s that Childs pled to occurred between 2005 and 2009. The 46-year-old controlled the victims phone usage, told them what they could eat, took all of the money the victims made and would violently beat them if they failed to comply. The complaint states that the prostitution occurred, among other places, inside the TNT Gentlemen’s Club in Lebanon and the Hardware Store in Clyman both of which have since closed.
One victim told investigators that Childs had a “good relationship” with the managers at the strip clubs and would call them to verify how much money the victims would make each night after going into private rooms with customers. The managers would apparently send the girls home with their money in sealed envelopes so that Childs could be assured that the seal had not been broken. The punishments they would be subjected to if money was missing was graphically-described “sadistic” physical abuse.
During a May 2017 incident at the Hardware Store, a manager identified as “Scottie” called Childs to report that one of his girls had been drinking and left the club early. During the abuse that followed, the victim defended herself by throwing a candle with hot wax at Childs. As a result, Childs called police to report a domestic incident. Before authorities arrived, Childs grabbed the victim’s phone and began deleting any texts, videos and pictures that would connect him to human trafficking.
In January of 2018, “Scottie” called Childs because one of the victims was causing problems with other dancers and with the owner of the Hardware Store. Scottie apparently wanted the victim to go on stage but she was exhausted from working 15-hour days and needed to take a break. Childs went to the Hardware Store and, on the way home, was stopped by a Dodge County Sheriff’s deputy who identified the victim in question as Childs passenger.
The complaint also details severe beatings, including one where a human trafficking victim was holding a toddler and the toddler was given to another victim to hold while the child’s mother was given, what was described, as the worst beating of her life.
Federal prosecutors say “witnesses have confirmed that employees at TNT handled arrangements for prostitution dates at the club and were aware of Childs role as a pimp.” Multiple witnesses also told investigators that Scottie and other staff at the Hardware Store are aware that Childs is a pimp.
Childs faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life when he is sentenced on May 21, 2020.