Florida Man Charged With Human Trafficking

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man was charged with human trafficking, false imprisonment and sexual battery after police say he took advantage of five people from Indiana, all of whom were either underage or have some type of mental disability.

Jeffrey Keowin, 37, met the victims in Indiana and allowed them to stay at his home in Florida, Clearwater police spokesman Rob Shaw said. The victims were from the Peru, Indiana area. Some had been staying with him for several months, while others, a few weeks, Shaw said.

The victims were a 51-year-old woman and her 20-year-old son, a 38-year-old woman and her 17-year-old son, and a 17-year-old girl.

Authorities were called when the victims snuck out of the house and used a neighbor’s phone while Keowin was sleeping.

Police say Keowin controlled their finances, didn’t allow them access to money and wouldn’t let them leave. They had limited access to food, were banned from using needed medicine and weren’t allowed to use the phone.

A news release says Keowin hit the victims, forced one into prostitution and sexually battered two others. He also threatened them verbally, officials said.

Keowin was charged with five counts of false imprisonment, two counts of sexual battery and one count of human trafficking. He was arrested Jan. 13.

Keowin is being held on $165,000 bond at the Pinellas County Jail. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Clearwater Police are looking for anyone who might have information about this case or believe that Keowin is involved in other cases.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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