A 23-year-old Vancouver man was sentenced Monday in Clark County Superior Court to 14 months in prison for unlawful imprisonment of a juvenile girl who accused him of forcing her into prostitution.
Kenneth H. White Jr. pleaded guilty to the reduced charges, including unlawful imprisonment and bail jumping, as part of a negotiated agreement with the prosecution. He had faced multiple counts of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, first-degree promoting prostitution and first-degree kidnapping.
But White’s attorney, Gregg Schile, told Judge John Nichols that the prosecution lacked evidence to convict on all the charges.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said he couldn’t comment specifically why he agreed to the reduced charges.
Court documents, however, show that Vancouver police Detective Jeremy Free, who is on administrative leave due to pending charges of obstructing a law enforcement officer in Washougal, was the primary investigator and witness in the case.
Dorothy Phillips, a 38-year-old co-defendant in the case, pleaded guilty on Thursday to felony harassment and permitting prostitution and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with credit for time served. She’s been in jail for about that amount of time.
White and Phillips were roommates in the 1900 block of Northeast 84th Way when they were accused of trafficking a 17-year-old girl for sex. White also was accused of luring three other victims.
Two victim advocates attended the hearing but did not comment. They said they were not authorized to speak to the press.
Phillips allegedly drove the 17-year-old girl to Gresham, Ore., on March 15 to meet a man for sex, according to court documents. Then, police allege, Phillips kept the money paid to the girl.
Four days later, Phillips allegedly took the girl to meet another unknown man to have sex in exchange for money.
White had allegedly held the girl against her will at his Vancouver home and took away her cellphone when she texted a friend for help. He also allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to court records.
After Phillips reportedly took the girl to Portland to prostitute her, White provided phone numbers to call to set up “dates,” according to court documents.
Police said investigators were alerted to the case by the girl’s friends in Oregon City, Ore., who had received text messages that she was being held against her will.
The defendants were arrested the week of March 20 following a Vancouver police investigation that included executing a search warrant of their home.