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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Two plead not guilty in teen sex-trafficking case


Two Vancouver roommates accused of trafficking a juvenile girl for sex have been arraigned on charges of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

Kenneth H. White, 22, pleaded not guilty Wednesday, April 4 to two counts of first-degree promoting prostitution and unlawful imprisonment in addition to the commercial sexual abuse charge.

His co-defendant, Dorothy M. Phillips, 38, pleaded not guilty March 30 to promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

Trial for the two is tentatively scheduled for May 21.

Phillips’ charge notes one girl; White’s charges relate to two alleged victims.

Newly filed court documents reveal White also allegedly lured a 21-year-old friend of the 17-year-old victim to prostitute.

The promoting prostitution charges allege he compelled both alleged victims to sell themselves “by threat or force,” according to charging papers.

Police say Phillips and White live together in the 1900 block of Northeast 84th Way and work together in the trafficking trade.

The case surfaced after one of the alleged victims, a 17-year-old Oregon girl, met the two through a third person and they encouraged her to prostitute, police said. Phillips allegedly drove the girl to Gresham, Ore., on March 15 to meet a man for sex, according to court documents. Then, police allege, Phillips kept the money paid to the girl.

Four days later, Phillips allegedly took the girl to meet another unknown man to have sex in exchange for money.

White had allegedly held the girl against her will at his Vancouver home and took away her cellphone when she texted a friend for help. He also allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to court records.

After Phillips reportedly took the 17-year-old girl to Portland to prostitute, White provided phone numbers to call to set up “dates,” according to court documents.

Police said investigators were alerted to the case by the girl’s friends in Oregon City, Ore., who had received text messages that she was being held against her will.

The defendants were arrested the week of March 20 following a Vancouver police investigation that included executing a search warrant of their home.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.