Two Hodgenville residents arrested last week on the rarely used charges of human trafficking and promotion of human trafficking entered not guilty pleas in LaRue County's 10th District Court Dec. 15.
Court records show Rhonda J. Brown, 54, is accused of trading the sexual services of a 15-year-old girl under her care to James M. Curtsinger, 63, in exchange for his paying some of her monthly bills.
Curtsinger was charged Dec. 8 with first-degree sexual abuse, third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy and human trafficking, victim under 18.
The former LaRue County deputy jailer faces additional misdemeanor charges of third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. If convicted as charged, he could be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
Brown, who is related to the teen, was charged with complicity to sex abuse, rape, and sodomy and promotion of human trafficking, victim under 18. She could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted as charged.
The crimes allegedly took place at Curtsinger's home at 131 N. Summitt Ave., according to Kentucky State Police.
Brown is housed in the LaRue County jail with the full cash bond set at $100,000. Because of his former employment, Curtsinger is jailed in Hardin County. His bond is the same.
According to the arrest citation, the teen told KSP that Brown and Curtsinger had an agreement: "that if (the alleged victim) performed sexual acts on him, he would pay Mrs. Brown's bills."
Curtsinger is not accused of forcibly raping the girl though she claims he did, according to the citation.
"Brown also stated that (the girl) told her Mr. Curtsinger forcefully raped her," a criminal citation against Curtsinger states, "But Brown encouraged her to go back to Mr. Curtsinger."
Both defendants were found ineligible for public defenders during Wednesday's arraignment due to the amount of equity they hold in property. That means they'll need to hire private attorneys or represent themselves as the cases proceed in court.
During her Dec. 15 court appearance, Brown looked tired as she waited her turn to go before District Judge C. Derek Reed. She turned around and scanned the audience several times and whispered to family members who attended the proceeding. A friend who was in court to answer a charge of fourth-degree assault, walked by Brown and stopped to hug her.
When Judge Reed advised Brown she would need to hire an attorney, she said, "I don't know anybody."
Reed suggested she look in the Yellow Pages "under A."
Brown also requested she be placed on "homebound." Reed advised her of the seriousness of the charges and declined to lower her bond.
Curtsinger arrived in court about half an hour later as he was transported from the Hardin County Detention Center. He took a seat directly behind Brown and the two held a short conversation.
Curtsinger also asked the judge for a reduction in bond, saying he could afford $10,000 cash bond. He told Reed it was "the first time" he'd been in trouble.
County Attorney Dale Morris opposed the request due to the seriousness of the crime and Judge Reed concurred.
The judge said he would reconsider the request during the Dec. 22 hearing "after hearing the evidence."
Curtsinger was allowed to speak briefly with his daughter outside the courtroom to discuss payment of his bills.
Curtsinger and Brown were married in May 1976 in LaRue County and had a daughter together, according to a signed statement they made during divorce proceedings in 1983. However, a search in LaRue County Clerk's records did not turn up the marriage certificate.
Brown was awarded custody of their child. Curtsinger was ordered to pay $70 every two weeks toward child support. A wage garnishment in 1995 indicated Curtsinger owed more than $13,000 in back child support, according to court documents.
The state law relating to human trafficking falls under the same chapter of Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 529, as crimes relating to prostitution.
Since the law was passed in 2007, only six cases alleging human trafficking have been prosecuted in Kentucky courts, according to researchers working for Kentucky's Department of Court Services.
Two of those cases, both of which allege the victimization of a juvenile, remain pending in Kenton and Boone County courts in northern Kentucky.
Kentucky State Police reports show more than 1,500 cases alleging prostitution were filed across the state between 2008 and 2009.
Detective Jonathan Vaughn, in conjunction with the LaRue County Cabinet for Families and Children, investigated the allegations.