LAYTON — A Layton man accused of forcing a 16-year-old runaway girl to work as an escort to raise money for him, has been arrested.
Ditiarus Neal, 18, was arrested for investigation of aggravated exploitation of prostitution, sexual exploitation of a minor, drug possession, possession of other identifications, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to police, a teen girl ran away from home in the Salt Lake area, met Neal and lived with him in his apartment from January to March. During her stay, the girl said, Neal forced her to become an escort to make money for him, said Layton Police Lt. Shawn Horton.
"I don't have any indication she was beaten or she was promised anything. The probable cause statement indicates that she felt like she was forced to do it and he told her he wanted her to do it to make some money for him. I don't know of any other arrangements that were made," he said. "She indicated to officers that she felt like she was forced (into being an escort)."
Horton said investigators confirmed the girl placed several ads on various websites as an escort. He did not believe she advertised herself as being a 16-year-old. Several people answered the ad, Horton said. The investigation into whether those people knew they were having sex with a minor was ongoing.
In March, the teen decided to leave Neal and had a friend pick her up from his apartment. In April, while she was being interviewed by a Unified police detective for a separate investigation brought to their attention by the Division of Child and Family Services, the girl disclosed her involvement as an escort, Horton said.
The ensuing police investigation culminated Friday with a search warrant that was served on Neal's apartment, according to Horton.
Nude photographs of the victim and marijuana were seized, he said. Neal was booked into the Davis County Jail.
The concern now for detectives is whether any other minors were coerced into acting as escorts for Neal.
"We don't know of anyone at this time, we don't have any names. But it's an ongoing investigation to make sure there weren't others involved and if there were, we need to do our best to get them out of this business and get them the help that they need," Horton said.
Neal pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in February, according to Utah state court records.