United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. Howell, Chief Judge.
government has appealed a Magistrate Judge decision denying
the government's motion for pretrial detention of the
defendant, Antonio Lamar Hardy, who has been charged in a
two-count criminal complaint with knowingly transporting an
individual under the age of 18 in interstate commerce with
intent that that individual engage in prostitution and any
sexual act for which any person can be charged with a
criminal offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a),
and knowingly attempting to recruit, entice, harbor,
transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize, or solicit
by any means, in and affecting interstate or foreign
commerce, a minor female 16 years of age, knowing and in
reckless disregard of the fact that the female had not
attained the age of 18 years and that she would be caused to
engaged in a commercial sex act, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1591. See Gov't's Mot. to Extend Stay
of Release Order and for Review of Release Order
(“Gov't's Mot.”), at 1-2, ECF No. 11;
Gov't's Mot. for Review of Release Order, ECF No. 12;
Crim. Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1. These charges arise from
evidence that the defendant, from approximately February 20,
2019 to March 14, 2019, engaged in sexual activities with a
16-year-old female minor (“N.H”), whom the
defendant allegedly paid for these activities, and that he
transported her across state lines in order to engage in
these activities. See Crim. Compl. at 1; Aff. Supp.
Crim. Compl. (“Aff.”) at 1-2, ECF No. 1-1. The
defendant, who previously worked at the school N.H. attends,
Aff. at 1; Gov't's Mot. at 5, allegedly picked up
N.H. from locations in the District of Columbia and Virginia
and transported her to his home and a hotel in Maryland in
order to engage in sexual activities, Aff. at 2;
Gov't's Mot. at 4, 12-13, 16. In exchange for sexual
activities, the defendant allegedly paid N.H. cash and bought
her items including a Nintendo Switch and a smartphone. Aff.
at 6-7; Gov't's Mot. at 12. The defendant also
allegedly purchased two videos from N.H., at least one of
which depicted sexual activities between a man and a minor
girl who attended high school. See Aff. at 5-6;
Gov't's Mot. at 3-4, 7-8.
on the evidence proffered by the parties at a hearing on May
20, 2019 before this Court, the government's motion to
detain the defendant was granted. See Min. Entry
(May 20, 2019). This Memorandum Opinion sets out the findings
and reasons for detention. See 18 U.S.C. §
3142(i)(1) (requiring that a detention order “include
written findings of fact and a written statement of the
reasons for the detention”); see also United States
v. Nwokoro, 651 F.3d 108, 109 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (per
curiam) (noting that the Bail Reform Act requires pretrial
detention order be supported by “a clear and legally
sufficient basis for the court's determination” in
written findings of fact and a written statement of the
reasons for the detention or in “the transcription of a
detention hearing” (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting United States v. Peralta, 849 F.2d 625, 626
(D.C. Cir. 1988))).
BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS
section provides a procedural history of this case and a
summary of the parties' arguments regarding whether the
defendant's relationship with N.H. was commercial and
whether the defendant or members of his family attempted to
convince N.H. to lie to or to stop cooperating with law
defendant, a 22-year-old man, Aff. at 1, was arrested on May
3, 2019 on an arrest warrant issued by the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia in connection
with a Criminal Complaint charging the defendant with one
count of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1591, and one count of transportation of a
minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). See Crim.
Compl. at 1; Gov't's Mot. at 1-2; Arrest Warrant
Returned Executed (May 3, 2019), ECF No. 4. The defendant
waived his preliminary hearing, see Waiver of
Preliminary Hearing, ECF No. 8. At the defendant's
initial appearance, the government moved to detain the
defendant without bond pending trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142(f)(1)(A). Gov't's Mot. at 2. After a
continuance to allow for initial discovery, a detention
hearing was held on May 17, 2019, before a Magistrate Judge,
see id.; Min. Entry (May 17, 2019), who denied the
government's motion for detention and released the
defendant on a personal recognizance bond to the third-party
custody of his uncle. Gov't's Mot. at 2-3. A number
of release conditions were imposed, including 21 days of home
confinement, participation in the High Intensity Supervision
Program, a curfew, restrictions on internet usage, and a
stay-away order pertaining to minors, including N.H.
See Order Setting Conditions for Release
(“Release Order”) at 2, ECF No. 10.
the Magistrate Judge's decision, the government moved for
a stay of the release order to permit it to file a motion for
review, which the Magistrate Judge granted, with the stay set
to expire at 5:00 PM on May 20, 2019. Gov't's Mot. at
3; Min. Entry (May 17, 2019). The government filed a motion
to extend the stay of the release order in order to give this
Court time for review, and a hearing was held on May 20, 2019
at 2:30 PM. See Min. Entry (May 20,
Background of the Defendant's Relationship with
hearing, the government relied, as support for seeking the
defendant's pretrial detention, largely on the factual
allegations set out in the criminal complaint and in its
motion for review of the release order. In particular,
evidence indicates that from approximately February 20, 2019
through March 14, 2019, the defendant engaged in sexual acts
with N.H., a 16-year-old girl, that he paid N.H. cash and
goods in exchange for sexual activity, and that he
transported N.H. from locations in Virginia and the District
of Columbia to his residence in Maryland and to a hotel in
Maryland in order to engage in sexual activity.
and an unidentified 18-year-old male business partner
operated an Instagram business in which N.H. prostituted
herself and other minors. Gov't's Mot. at 3. N.H.
owned numerous Instagram accounts, one of which,
“P.1.mp, ” was used to advertise sex videos and
prostitution. Id. at 5, 7. The page advertised sex
videos for purchase, most of which, according to N.H.,
involved girls who were under the age of 18. Id. at
3, 6. Law enforcement officers who reviewed N.H.'s
Instagram account noted that the account listed several
sexual services with a price next to each service, with an
indication that payments must be made through a particular
application. Id. at 6.
February 21, 2019, N.H., at the direction of her business
partner, met with an individual who had contacted the
business partner through Instagram looking to purchase
pornography. Id. at 3-4, 7; H'rg Tr. (Rough) at
5:17-25 (clarifying that this meeting occurred on February
21, 2019). This buyer turned out to be the defendant, whom
N.H. knew, since the defendant was employed at N.H.'s
high school as an information and technology specialist.
Gov't's Mot. at 4. N.H. was not aware of the identity
of the client before she went to the meeting. Id. at
4, 7. At the meeting, the defendant indicated
that he was looking for “sloppy oral” videos and
provided N.H. with $20 in exchange for two videos.
Id. at 7. N.H. gave the defendant her cell phone to
allow him to look at the videos available and select two to
purchase. Id. Most of the videos were of girls under
the age of 18 engaging in sex acts. Id. The
defendant asked who was in the videos, and N.H. told him that
most of them depicted a student from High School 1, although
a different student from High School 2 was also depicted.
Id. The defendant selected two videos for purchase,
one of which, according to N.H., depicted a girl giving oral
sex to a male; this girl attended High School 2, although
N.H. did not know her precise age. Id. Text messages
N.H. exchanged with her business partner on February 21, 2019
indicate that the defendant, in addition to being interested
in purchasing videos, was also interested in engaging in
sexual activity with N.H. or “one of the girls.”
Id. at 8-9.
next day, February 22, 2019, the defendant used his Instagram
account to communicate with N.H. via her Instagram account.
Id. at 10-11. N.H. asked for “a favor”
and indicated that she needed an adult to accompany her to
get a tattoo that evening. Id. at 11. The defendant
agreed, and he and his wife took N.H. to get a tattoo.
Id. N.H. discussed these plans with a school
administrator (“CW 1”). Id. at 5. In her
Instagram messages with CW 1, N.H. referred to the defendant
as her “Splenda-Daddy.” Id. at 11. As
N.H. explained to investigators, the term connoted that the
defendant was “similar to a ‘sugar daddy' but
with less money to spend.” Id. at 11 n.7.
defendant and N.H. allegedly began to engage in sexual
activities on or around February 23, 2019, although the
government's papers confuse rather than elucidate the
timeline of the defendant's relationship with N.H. At the
hearing, the government indicated that N.H. and the defendant
first had sex on the evening of February 23, 2019 at the
defendant's residence in Maryland, after the defendant
picked N.H. up from a location in the District of Columbia.
Id. at 12; H'rg Tr. (Rough) at 26:7-25
(indicating that the defendant and N.H. first had sex at the
defendant's house on February 23, 2019). Although the
government states “we know [the defendant] takes [N.H.]
to his house before he takes her to the hotel to engage in
sex for money, ” H'rg Tr. (Rough) at 26:13-15, the
government's motion also states that prior to going to
the hotel, the defendant picked N.H. up from her
grandmother's house in Maryland (not the
District of Columbia), went to the District of Columbia to
eat, went to CW 1's house in Maryland, went to a store in
Virginia, all before eventually checking into a hotel in
Maryland. Gov't's Mot. at 13. Although this timeline
is not necessarily inconsistent with stopping at the
defendant's home in Maryland at some point on February
23, 2019, the government does not make clear when, if at all,
this stop occurred. Further, the government also indicates
that the first time N.H. had sex at the defendant's
residence was not her first time visiting the residence.
Id. at 12. Indeed, the government's evidence
could be read to suggest that the defendant and N.H. first
had sex at the defendant's home in Maryland on February
24, 2019, rather than on February 23, 2019. Hotel records and
data from N.H.'s iPhone indicate that the defendant and
N.H. checked into a Maryland hotel in the early morning hours
of February 24, 2019. Id. at 13. N.H.'s iPhone
contains videos of her, with the defendant visible or audible
in the background, in a hotel room, and the videos were
created in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019.
Id. The government's motion also states that
N.H. and the defendant went to the defendant's residence
on February 24, 2019, after leaving the hotel.
Id. at 14. Images from N.H.'s iPhone include
pictures of the defendant taken outside his residence, with
the pictures dated February 24, 2019, and a video of N.H. in
the defendant's residence taken during the same time
period. Id. From this jumbled timeline, whether or
when the defendant and N.H. had sex at the defendant's
residence on February 23 or 24, 2019 remains murky.
the defendant and N.H. allegedly continued to engage in
sexual activities until approximately March 14, 2019.
Criminal Compl. at 1. Although N.H. could not specify the
exact number of times she engaged in sexual activities with
the defendant, she estimated at least six times. H'rg Tr.
(Rough) at 7:4-7.
Evidence of the Commercial Nature of the
confusion regarding the location of the defendant's first
sexual encounter with N.H., the defendant concedes that he
engaged in sexual activities with N.H. over a period of
weeks. Id. at 19:20-25 (Defense Counsel stating:
“[W]e are not disputing that there was this
relationship.”). He disputes, however, that their
relationship was commercial. See Id. at 14:19- 22
(“[W]hat Judge Harvey hung his hat on essentially was
the sufficiency of the evidence when it relates to the actual
commercial sex between the two parties.”); id.
at 19:21-22 (“The question is whether it was quid pro
quo, money for sex.”). The defendant suggests that
buying a sexual partner food and gifts is common in
relationships, id. at 20:8-15, and that “there
is not a single text message or any other type of electronic
record of [defendant] ever mentioning that he's paying
for sex acts, ” id. at 39:24-40:1. He further
points to text messages between N.H. and the defendant
“talking about their feelings for each other, talking
about their relationship, ” id. at 16:17-18,
as evidence that “[t]his is not a prostitute talking to
a John about a business transaction, ” id. at
16:19-20. The defendant further posits that N.H.'s pain
over the defendant ending their relationship is “the
motive for the fabrications that N.H. appears to be
making.” Id. at 16:24-18:17 (defense counsel
detailing what he believes to be outright fabrications or at
least inconsistencies in N.H.'s statements).
government responds that although N.H. was not able to say
with precision how many times she had engaged in sexual
activities with the defendant, such activities occurred at
least six times, and that “there were no occasions
where there were sex acts performed not for payment.”
Id. at 7:4-7; see also Gov't's Mot.
at 16 (N.H. indicated that that the defendant “paid her
in cash each time the two had engaged in sexual acts”).
Moreover, N.H. “stated that she viewed sexual
encounters as business, ” Gov't's Mot. at 12,
and that “[f]rom the beginning, N.H. told [defendant]
he had to pay for her time, ” id. Although the
defendant paid N.H. one time to “hang out” in his
car, otherwise, the defendant “was basically paying to
have sex with her.” Id.; see also Id.
at 13 (“N.H. also clarified in a later interview that
[defendant] paid her cash for the sex acts in which the two
engaged at the hotel.”); id. at 16 (N.H.
indicated that the defendant gave her $300 in cash after
engaging in sexual acts at his home, and on at least two
other occasions of sexual activity at the defendant's
home, gave her varying amounts of money after the sexual
activity but not less than $150); id. at 21-22
(N.H., recounting to CW 1 her conversations with the
defendant, explains that she texted the defendant that
“our deal has been settled you got me a phone and paid
me the money you owe” and the defendant responded
“you are more to me than just business, ” after
which N.H. stated “[b]ring me 600 right now and I will
THINK ABOUT spending time with you, ” prompting the
defendant to bring N.H. $600, after which they engaged in
sexual activity). The defendant's phone also ...