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The Bizarre World of Florida

Do you know where your 14-year-old is? Man charged with pimping girl, 14. April 30, 2012

A Palatka man accused of prostituting a 14-year-old girl at a Gainesville hotel was arrested early Friday morning by Alachua County sheriff’s deputies after an anonymous tip about suspicious activity.

Bertram J. Harrison, 34, of 304 Magnolia Drive, was charged with buying or selling a minor for prostitution, according to his arrest report.

The arrest is the second recently in which a man was charged with prostituting a child in Gainesville.

Harrison was arrested at the Days Inn hotel at 7516 Newberry Road, where the girl was meeting clients.

Sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey said the girl is not from Gainesville but is from the area.

“We got a caller who gave us information that this was possibly occurring there and gave a vehicle description,” Forgey said. “The deputy spotted the vehicle pulling in and stops it. He identified the guy and the girl as the ones he had received information about.”

The girl told investigators she met Harrison through a friend about a month ago, the report states. Harrison explained “escorting” to her, and they traveled to Gainesville to hang out at a hotel.

She was told she would get phone calls and was instructed to give prices for a “donation” — $200 for one hour and $150 for a half-hour, the report states. Harrison then began picking her up at her house and taking her to the hotel.

The girl told deputies her mother and other family members did not know where she was going. She told them she was staying with friends, deputies reported.

Deputies said the girl recalled meeting men seven different times for sex, five at the hotel and two at other locations in Gainesville to which Harrison drove her.

On a typical night, Harrison would pick her up about 9 p.m. at her house or on the street, and she would return home at 5 or 6 a.m., according to the report.

A detective found two different escort advertisements on the Internet with pictures and the girl’s cellphone number, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

On March 23, the Gainesville Police Department arrested Shay Ward Thomsen, of Gainesville, on charges of procuring a minor for prostitution after a 13-year-old girl was found in his car during a traffic stop at night.

Police said the girl told officers she recently had met Thomsen in church and that he gave her the idea to prostitute. She told police Thomsen would have people call him to arrange sex with her and then drive her to the locations.

 

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