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Third person arrested for forcing a teen girl into prostitution

Posted at 12:54 PM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 17:41:53-04

A woman charged with forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution is now the third person arrested in connection to the case.

Jessica Lynn Smitherman, 31, is charged with human trafficking in case that occurred in late May and early June. Investigators say Smitherman conspired with Andre Lamar Russell, 28, and Heather Lynn Harding, 23, to force a teen into prostitution at motels in Jessup. 

Russell and Harding were arrested on June 1. A warrant was issued for Smitherman's arrest and she was charged on June 30.

She is being held on $35,000 bond at the Howard County Detention Center.

Detectives say Smitherman helped coordinate prostitution appointments and forced the teen to perform sex acts for money. An investigation reveals Smitherman may have taken photos of the teen that were posted on the website, Backpage, which is known to be used for prostitution.

Russell was indicted on June 14 on multiple counts of human trafficking, human trafficking conspiracy, assault and drug charges. He is being held on no bond.

Harding was indicted June 28 on count of human trafficking conspiracy. She was released on $35,000 bond.

The teenage victim was taken to a child advocacy center.