HUNTINGTON – A Huntington man accused of pimping a 16-year-old runaway from Chicago and maintaining a sexual relationship with the girl himself has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
The federal indictment charges David Ray Pelfrey, 39, with sexual exploitation of children and possession of material containing images and videos of child pornography. He had been previously arrested June 6, 2017, and charged in state court with soliciting a minor via computer and receiving support from prostitution.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court by Huntington police after Pelfrey’s arrest, the Federal Bureau of Investigation branch office in Charleston received a tip June 5, 2017, alleging a 16-year-old girl from Chicago, who was reported missing in May, was being trafficked and sold for sex by Pelfrey.
The two lived together at Pelfrey’s home in the 900 block of 18th Street West, the tip alleged. The information was forwarded to the Huntington Police Department the same day.
Police went to the home and were positioned such as to be able to see a female through a window putting on underwear as police approached the home and knocked on the door.
No one answered the door, but a neighbor indicated Pelfrey’s vehicle was located at the home.
Police knocked at the door again and Pelfrey opened the door, wearing sweatpants, the affidavit said. Police asked Pelfrey about the missing teen and Pelfrey allegedly told police he believed the female inside his residence could be the missing girl, according to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court.
Pelfrey allegedly said he had just met the girl at a bar the previous night and allowed police to enter the home to look for the girl. The girl confirmed she was the missing teen and was removed from the home. While being forensically interviewed, the girl said she met Pelfrey in sexual-based chatrooms, which Pelfrey allegedly also later admitted, according to the complaint.
After a few conversations, the girl came to Huntington to stay with Pelfrey, she told police. Pelfrey denied he went to Chicago to pick her up. Instead, he told police she was dropped off at his home by three men two weeks prior to his arrest.
According to the criminal complaint, the victim allegedly then began “selling herself to other men for sexual encounters,” complaints state, from which Pelfrey profited.
Pelfrey alleged he believed the girl was 18.
A search warrant for Pelfrey’s home was obtained and electronic media was seized, along with cellphones. Sexually explicit images and videos of the minor were found on Pelfrey’s phone, including a video shot June 1 of what appears to be sexual intercourse with the girl.
The indictment, which was returned in December, came a month before January’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion.
According to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, human trafficking is considered to be the second-largest criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Morrisey sponsored in 2017 a program established at raising awareness and training to hundreds of law enforcement officers and community groups across the state, including a November training session at HPD in November.