Palatka man gets 13 years in prison for pimping teen

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.

Bertram Jeronomy Harrison had advertised on several Internet websites, offering the 14-year-old girl for sexual liaisons, authorities said.

And he found customers.

The girl later recalled that in the course of a month, she met men seven different times for sex, five at a hotel and two at other locations in Gainesville to which Harrison drove her.

Harrison, 35, of Palatka was arrested in April after the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from someone at the Days Inn hotel at 7516 Newberry Road that Harrison was pimping a girl who was meeting clients there.

Harrison was sentenced on Friday to 13 years in prison after earlier pleading guilty to sex trafficking. He will serve his time in a federal prison and will be on lifetime supervision when he is released, according to a press release from U.S. Justice Department.

“This sentence demonstrates how seriously the criminal justice system treats the crime of human trafficking, and rightly so, given the horrific abuses experienced by the victim,” U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said in the press release.

“The crime of human trafficking, which is simply a modern-day form of slavery, will be aggressively prosecuted and is among the highest priorities of the Department of Justice.”

The Sun reported at the time of the arrest that the girl told investigators she met Harrison through a friend about a month earlier. 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.

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

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