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Palm Harbor man accused of recruiting underage girls for prostitution

2:04 PM, May 25, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Man accused of recruiting underage girls for prostitution

 

Palm Harbor, Florida -- James Perdue is accused of luring in teenage girls with drugs and alcohol, then overseeing their sexual abuse.

Detectives say James Garrett Perdue, 61, had turned his home in Palm Harbor into a sort of trap to exploit and oversee the sexual abuse of underage girls.

In a news conference at noon Friday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said it's been going on possibly for years, and at least since January, in Perdue's home in the 600 block of 9th Street.

Detectives allege Perdue acted as a pimp for underage runaways. He helped one 16-year old girl sell herself for sex at least ten times, Gualtieri said.

In details 10 News was the first to report on 10 News at 9 a.m., deputies say Perdue helped two girls take photos in their underwear and post ads on adult escort websites.

The 16-year old girls advertised sex at a rate of $150 for two encounters, Gualtieri said, and detectives followed Perdue as he drove the girls to motels in Tampa and Palm Harbor.

Less than two weeks ago, Tampa Police knocked on one of the motel room doors in the section of Tampa near Dale Mabry Hwy. and I-275, Gualtieri said.

A 16-year old girl was there with several changes of bathing suits and Perdue was wearing only boxer shorts.

Gualtieri said it was clear to investigators something improper was going on, but they didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest. So police returned the girl -- a known frequent runaway -- to her family and continued monitoring Perdue's movements.

Perdue has admitted to detectives that sometimes the girls would be paid in drugs, and Perdue would share in those drugs, Gualtieri said, and the man has also admitted to helping the girls post pictures and travel to motels.

But Perdue insists he did not serve as a pimp, managing the girls' sexual encounters. Sheriff's investigators don't appear to believe that, since one of the counts on Perdue's arrest report is Procuring a Person Under the Age of 18 for Prostitution.

Perdue lured in runaway teenage girls with drugs and alcohol, detectives say, then served as a pimp for these underage girls.

According to his jail record, Perdue faces charges of:

  • Sexual Performance by a Child: Bond $20,000
  • Procuring a Person Under 18 for Prostitution: Bond $10,000
  • Possession of Methamphetamine: Bond $2,000
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Bond $150.00

The drug charges come from a pipe with residue of meth Perdue had in his pocket when he was arrested, according to sheriff's office reports.

Detectives said Perdue also offered drugs and alcohol to the girls in the case.

Neighbors and anonymous callers to Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay got detectives started on the case.

Sheriff Gualtieri said he's confident there are other girls who have victimized. If you have information, call the Pinellas County Crimes Against Children Unit at 727-582-6200.

If you would like to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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