Philadelphia Man Convicted of Trafficking a Minor on Backpage.com

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Rodney Kent a/k/a “Hott Rodd”, a/k/a “Hott,” 50, of Philadelphia, PA, was convicted at trial this week of sex trafficking, arising from his forcible coercion of a minor to engage in prostitution.

In September 2018, Kent was charged by Indictment for sex trafficking of a minor via force, fraud and coercion stemming from his actions to traffic the victim. The defendant and the victim first met on a digital social networking application in June 2016. Kent then met the victim, who was a teenager, and transported the victim to a house where he manipulated the victim into posing for photographs. The defendant then advertised the minor victim for sex on Backpage.com over the course of several weeks; during this time he also verbally and physically abused the victim, including using cigarettes to burn the victim. The victim was eventually able to escape from the defendant’s house and alert law enforcement. In April 2018, the Justice Department seized Backpage, which was the Internet’s leading forum for prostitution ads, including ads depicting the prostitution of children.

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“The crime that this defendant committed is one of the most devastating to victims that our Office prosecutes,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Kent forced a young person, a minor child, to sell their body for his own greed and financial gain. We will continue to work collectively to investigate these destructive crimes against the most vulnerable victims.”

“While this defendant will face years in prison for his vile actions, his victim will carry the effects of those actions for the rest of their life,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire. “The FBI works tirelessly to find and capture the monsters who prey on our children. To those who participate in this brand of evil as a means to make a living – we are looking for you, we will find you, and you will find yourself paying the price inside the walls of penitentiary.”

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This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alexandra M. Lastowski and Vineet Gauri.

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