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A St. Louis man helped prostitute a 15-year-old, authorities say.
A St. Louis man has pleaded guilty to racketeering after he was caught prostituting a fifteen-year-old runaway.
Sean McChord O'Donnell, 52, first met the girl in November 2016 at the First Western Inn on North Broadway, according to court documents. He was there to hook up with a 21-year-old prostitute.
O'Donnell, who describes himself online as a retired Army officer, had an ongoing relationship with the 21-year-old that included driving her around to meet other customers, providing security, renting hotel rooms and lending her money, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office say. During his November visit, he spotted the fifteen-year-old in the hotel lobby. The girl had run away months before, and St. Louis County police had been looking for her since September 2016, authorities say.
She was apparently already working as a prostitute and had recently left her pimp, according to prosecutors. O'Donnell handed her his card and told her to call him.
O'Donnell later "engaged in commercial sex acts" with the girl, who was identified in court papers only as Jane Doe. He also began to manage her illicit business operations: renting hotel rooms for her because she had no identification and also photographing her in revealing outfits and using those photos for advertisements that he financed and posted on Backpage.com, prosecutors say. He listed his email address as the contact. He also took other, explicit photos of her and sent those pics to others, court records say.
Police were still searching for the girl as part of a missing juvenile case in January when they found one of her ads. Posing as a customer, officers set up a meeting with her at an Econolodge near I-70 and Woodson Terrace Road in north county.
The sting worked, and officers took the girl from the hotel on January 24. Following a joint investigation by St. Louis County, Bridgeton and St. Charles County police with the FBI, O'Donnell was indicted and arrested in August.
He pleaded guilty today to a felony count of racketeering using interstate facilities to promote, manage, establish and carry on the unlawful act of prostitution. He had also been charged in August with sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, but that charge was not part of today's plea.
O'Donnell is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18, 2018 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and fines of $250,000. He previously pleaded guilty in 2016 in Missouri to trespassing.
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