he United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced today that United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced KENNETH CORVON WARD, 39, of Wilson, North Carolina, in a sex trafficking case. WARD was sentenced to 160 months’ imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release. On April 11, 2017, WARD pled guilty to Sex Trafficking of a Minor and Aiding and Abetting from May 30, 2015, to December 5, 2015.
In December 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) investigated the sex trafficking of a minor. Agents identified a minor female (Victim) who was reportedly being sexually exploited by several individuals. The investigation revealed that William Maurice Saddler, previously convicted by a federal jury on November 30, 2017, began an illicit dating relationship with the Victim while she was thirteen or fourteen years old. Around 2015, when the Victim was fifteen years old, Saddler forced her to prostitute at migrant camps around Wilson, North Carolina. Among other tactics, Saddler used violence, fear, and manipulation to force the Victim to continue prostituting to support Saddler’s crack cocaine habit.
WARD was identified as Saddler’s crack supplier. Shortly after WARD and his girlfriend Yadyra Brown met the Victim around late September or early October 2015, they began prostituting her. WARD and Brown promoted the fifteen-year-old Victim by posting multiple advertisements of her on Backpage.com (Backpage). WARD and Brown took multiple photographs of the Victim for the advertisements posted on Backpage. WARD kept the money the Victim earned.
On December 5, 2015, the RPD determined that WARD and Brown were prostituting the Victim in a hotel in Garner, North Carolina. The RPD and FBI executed an operation to rescue the Victim. They found her there with Brown; WARD was observed at the hotel but fled and was later arrested.
Mr. Higdon commented: “I want to thank agents of the FBI and NCSBI and officers of the Raleigh Police Department, the Wilson Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work and for their commitment to fighting those who would traffic our children. This case represents just how low some among us will go to victimize others, for personal gain and for profit. Today’s 13-plus year sentence is a small comfort for the young victim but it should send a message to those who victimize our children that we will not allow it.”
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Raleigh Police Department, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the Wilson Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Erin C. Blondel and Eleanor Morales represented the United States.