BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A Baton Rouge man faces felony charges after two 16-year-olds who reportedly ran away from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services were found in his car after a hit-and-run crash.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety arrested Chad Armstead, 29, of Baton Rouge on charges of two counts of human trafficking and one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. He was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Wednesday, April 5.
According to arrest documents, the victims had run away from DCFS on Feb. 24 and had been staying with Armstead. On Feb. 27, the victims reportedly took Armstead’s vehicle when he stepped out and got into a crash hours later.
After the hit-and-run, they were followed by the other driver involved in the crash to Cortana Place where Baton Rouge police officers responded, investigators said. The victims told officers they were working for Armstead. BRPD reportedly contacted the Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit for assistance.
In an interview with investigators, one victim said she met Armstead through social media two months before after her friend pretended to be her online. She said Armstead took photos of her and was posting them on sex advertisement websites, according to arrest documents. She told investigators she was forced to have sex with multiple men.
The affidavit stated that both underaged victims were forced by Armstead to take pictures together in the shower and would travel to different hotels across Baton Rouge to have sex with men.
A DCFS caseworker gave investigators Instagram messages between the two victims and Armstead, documents said. Investigators reportedly found nude images of the victims uploaded to a website.
DCFS Secretary Terri Ricks issued the following statement:
“As Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, it is with grief and concern that I address the recent news story of two sixteen-year-old juveniles who ran away from and were being trafficked by a man police say lured them using social media. While I cannot comment on specific cases, I would like to express that DCFS takes issues of human trafficking very seriously and has taken a proactive approach in the fight against it.
Our agency created a juvenile sex trafficking hotline that went live at the beginning of this year with the goal of encouraging the public to report suspected cases of juvenile trafficking. Since then, we have received 91 calls, with reports of 123 children who may be victims of trafficking. As a result of these calls, we have opened 44 investigations.
We want to assure the public that we are committed to working with law enforcement agencies to identify perpetrators of trafficking and to provide services to victims. We acknowledge the trauma that these victims and their families have experienced, and we are working towards providing stability and support for them.
Once again, we encourage anyone who suspects a child may be a victim of human trafficking to contact our hotline immediately. We are committed to the safety of all children in Louisiana and will continue to work towards eradicating this heinous crime. The hotline (1-855-4LA-KIDS or 1-855-452-5437) is toll-free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”