A woman held as a sex slave was repeatedly choked in ice baths, branded with a hot coat hanger and beaten with a belt at two national chain hotels in Pineville, N.C., police said Friday in announcing two arrests in the case.
The woman “was forced into sexual acts with random men,” according to a Pineville Police Department news release. She was “physically and mentally punished ... if she failed to meet a certain quota financially.”
The victim was tortured as her two children were forced to watch at the Comfort Suites on Centrum Parkway and the Quality Suites on Pineville-Matthews Road, police said. She was choked in the ice baths while being held under water in bathtubs in the rooms, according to the release.
The victim’s children were occasionally beaten, but were not sexually abused, according to the department.
Police said their “extensive criminal investigation” into the human trafficking case was already underway when the woman contacted them saying she and her children needed help. The investigation included interviews, search warrants and undercover surveillance, police said.
Police charged 26-year-old Thomas Antoine Miller with human trafficking of an adult victim, sexual servitude of an adult victim, assault by strangulation, assault on a child under 12, assault on a female and communicating threats. Miller remained in the Mecklenburg County jail on Friday.
The second suspect, 25-year-old Shakeeta Lasha Adams, was charged with simple assault. Adams is free on bail pending trial, jail records show.
“In both locations, the same two subjects arrested were involved in unspeakable violent acts,” police said in the release.
“Our victim has been very brave in coming forward, and we hope that if there are more victims out there, then they, too, will be inspired to come forward,” police said in the release. “We also want them to know that there is help out there for them. Our victim in this case and her children have a long road of physical and mental recovery ahead of them.”
Police believe more women may have been trafficked in connection with the case and urged anyone with information to call the department at 704-889-2231.
Human trafficking is “extremely rare” in Pineville, police said. Many of the hotels in Pineville, including the Comfort Suites and Quality Suites, already train their managers and other employees on how to spot human trafficking, police said.