POLICE: Owner of "Cheetah's" accused of human trafficking - WDRB 41 Louisville News

POLICE: Owner of "Cheetah's" accused of human trafficking

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John Hull (Source: Louisville Metro Corrections) John Hull (Source: Louisville Metro Corrections)
Logo of Cheetah's Escorts, the escort service that was incorporated by John Hull, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State's Web site. Logo of Cheetah's Escorts, the escort service that was incorporated by John Hull, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State's Web site.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The owner of Cheetah's Escort Service -- a Louisville-based escort agency -- has been arrested and charged with human trafficking, as well as forcing a woman to engage in prostitution against her will.

According to arrest reports, John J. Hull was arrested Wednesday night. Police say they cited his wife Rebecca Hull but let her stay in her home because of her health issues. She was not arrested. Both are charged with human trafficking and promoting prostitution out of their home on Bradbe Road in Louisville.

Police say Hull met with two suspects on April 23 who were later cited for prostitution and promoting prostitution, in an effort to receive "his cut of the money."

Those suspects allegedly told police that Hull was the owner of Cheetah's, and that both worked for him. The Kentucky Secretary of State's Web site lists Hull as the incorporator of the business, the principal office of which is located on Spring Mill Road, in a subdivision east of the intersection of Westport Road and La Grange Road.

[SECRETARY OF STATE'S RECORD OF CHEETAH'S]

Police say they called Cheetah's, posing as clients, and asked for an escort. That escort was sent to the undercover officer's hotel room.

John J. Hull and his accomplice set up the "date," for the undercover officer with one of their escorts, according to police.

Police say they spoke with a woman who worked for Hull; she allegedly told police Hull forced her to prostitute "by means of coercion." All of the money she made was seized by John and his accomplice, police say, and she couldn't use the phone unless it was in front of one of them.

Sgt. Andre Bottoms with the LMPD Narcotics Street Enforcement Platoon says, "They told her if she did leave or if she tried to stop doing what they were doing, they'd contact CPS and advise them what she's doing and therefore she wouldn't be able to get her child back."

On Thursday morning, he pled not guilty. His bond was set at $5,000. The judge ordered him to have no contact with the victim or victims.

According to the Kentucky Secretary of State's website, the company was incorporated in Sept. 1998 and is currently listed as "inactive" after the state dissolved it in Nov. 2009 for a failure to file an annual report.

Cheetah's website was still accessible online as of Thursday morning.

Amy Nace-DeGonda with the Louisville Human Trafficking Task Force says, "What a lot of people think, it's not happening here or it's happening just at derby time. And, the thing is it's happening throughout the year, as we are starting to see there's been more convictions."

Nace-DeGonda is also part of the HOPE Campaign.  Last year, she and others raised awareness with soaps with a phone number to call for help, but this year, it's lip balms and lip glosses.

Stickers ask, "Have you felt forced or tricked into stripping, having sex or other sex acts?" and lists a phone number and website for help. It's something small that victims can take with them and call when it's safe.

On Saturday, the HOPE campaign will drop off lip balms to area hotels off of major interstates all over Jefferson County. They're hoping hotels put them in the lobbies and in the rooms so a lot of people will see them.

House Bill 3 which Governor Steve Beshear just signed last month increases prison sentences for those convicted of exploiting children for sexual purposes. It also provides training for victims, advocates, and law enforcement officers so they can better recognize the signs of human trafficking.

Nace-DeGonda and authorities are hoping the bill along with more victims coming forward will make a difference.

She says, "It's another misconception, people think they are from different countries, but a lot of them are Americans."

Copyright 2013 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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