A 30-year-old man is charged with prostituting two girls, one of them barely a teenager, at times using rape, torture, kidnapping and beatings as he forced them to turn tricks in Twin Cities hotels.
Akmal S. Karon appeared Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court on eight charges of prostituting the girls. The criminal complaint includes no address for him, but his most recent driver's license lists him living in Blaine.
"This guy was just about as rough as they can get," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
Officers recovered Karon's cellphone as part of their investigation and found photos of one of the girls and a picture of him with the words "Pimp life" tattooed across his belly, the charges said.
According to the criminal complaint, based on a police investigation that started nearly two years ago:
The girl told authorities that she was forced to have sex with Karon, punched in the face, repeatedly kicked and once burned on the hand with a cigar. Angry that she was not bringing back enough money, Karon allegedly hit the girl in the head with a Snapple bottle.
She said she gave all of the money she earned for sex to Karon out of fear that he would hurt her. Karon used the money to pay for his apartment, buy a sports car and place the ads for her sexual services, she said.
Starting at age 15, the girl often worked out of hotels in Minneapolis, but also met clients in Richfield, St. Cloud and elsewhere.
The other girl told authorities that Karon picked her up one day outside her Brooklyn Park home a few days before her 14th birthday. He beat and raped her the next day at a Roseville hotel, where she then spent several more days servicing clients and turned over all of the money to him.
She also said that Karon took her to a St. Paul apartment and held her captive there for about a week and beat her.
It's not unusual for pimps to target young runaways or youth who have recently become homeless and are vulnerable, said Michele Garnett McKenzie, director of advocacy at the Advocates for Human Rights.
"Survival sex is a very common way of staying afloat," McKenzie said.
To help combat the problem of trafficking teens for sex, the public needs to view people that are trafficked as "victims of crimes, not criminals," she said.
"It's not like you can just walk away," she said about teens who are forced into the sex trade.
Karon was arrested Tuesday in Stearns County and was moved to the Hennepin County jail in Minneapolis, where he remains held in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482