GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Three men were taken into custody in Gaston County on Monday following a months-long investigation into a human trafficking case involving a teenage victim.
The sexual encounters investigated in this case took place in Gastonia and the surrounding county and were reviewed by the Gastonia Police Department before arrests were made.
According to Gastonia Police Captain Trent Conard, the victim was younger than 15 years old when she ran away from home. When she returned, she told family about what happened to her and they notified police.
51-year-old Robert Allen Derr, 33-year-old Rhodri Omar Ross and 53-year-old Jack Alexander Phillips were all arrested in connection with the investigation.
The men faced a judge Tuesday afternoon at which point none of their bonds were lowered.
Derr was charged with two counts of human trafficking a child victim, first degree kidnapping, four counts of being accessory before the fact to a felony, sexual servitude of a child and indecent liberties with a child. He is being held under a $1 million dollar bond.
Ross was charged with statuory rape of a child under 15, statututory sex offenses with a child under 15 and first degree kidnapping. He is being held under a $1 million dollar bond.
Phillips has been charged with two counts of statutory rape of a child under 15. He is being held under a $500,000 dollar bond.
According to the assistant district attorney, Phillips “did speak to police and made admissions at what he had done.”
Family and employees were in court for him.
The address on Phillip’s arrest warrant is All-In-1 Car Care in North Belmont, which neighboring business owners say he owns.
Its across the street from North Belmont Elementary School.
Captain Conard says the incidents happened in a North Belmont business, a residence and potentially a car.
He’s calling this case isolated, but is also urging parents to pay attention.
“To be involved in their children’s lives and keep up with them and if they notice anything different about their children take note of that," he said.
According to police, the victim in this case is getting the help she needs.
All three subjects are currently being held in a Gaston County jail as this remains an active investigation.