A man pleaded not guilty Monday to prostituting women in Western Washington, including in Pierce County.
Jevante Taymar McCray, 20, is charged with second-degree human trafficking and four counts of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly prostituting girls in the Tacoma, Everett and Shoreline areas.
McCray turned himself in Saturday, Tacoma police said. His bail was set at $250,000 on Monday.
According to charging papers: A 16-year-old Puyallup girl told police in January that she ran away with McCray and his friend, Isiah Martin, 18, to California. She said they forced her to work as a prostitute, and beat her and withheld food when she didn’t follow their instructions.
She told the officers it was difficult to breathe because she had been punched and kicked in the ribs, and she was taken to the hospital.
In February, agents with the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force responded to an ad on Backpage.com to try to find a 14-year-old girl pictured. They met the girl undercover at a Lakewood hotel, and she told them she was there with McCray and Martin.
Police found McCray asleep in a car nearby and Martin in a car outside the room with his girlfriend. Martin was arrested in February and charged with second-degree human trafficking.
McCray and Martin are accused of prostituting at least six underage girls between December 2011 and April.