A Utah man who was out of prison on parole now faces new charges of aggravated human trafficking and kidnapping, according to charges filed Thursday.
In an indictment in 3rd District Court, prosecutors from the Utah Attorney General’s Office allege Jeffrey Fitzgerald Porter, 51, forced two women into prostitution between January and July of this year.
The victims reported Porter physically abused them and required them to perform paid sex acts. The women were then forced to give Porter the money or drugs they received from the sex acts, according to the charging documents.
Over time, the victims reported they felt they were trapped by Porter. In a July incident, the victims told prosecutors Porter became suspicious they had changed his cell phone password, and beat them.
“Porter forced [The victims] to take off their clothes so that he could search them. [The victims] report that Porter took a metal bar and began hitting them, demanding they tell him what he wanted,” the indictment states.
At the time of his alleged crimes, Porter was on parole with the Utah Department of Corrections stemming from drug distribution charges. After his arrest, Porter was taken back to prison, where he is expected to remain as his new case moves forward.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Daniel Strong with the Secure Strike Force says, unfortunately, cases like this are common.
“The scope of this problem may not be easy to fathom, or even ascertain,” Strong told 2News.
Strong says law enforcement is trying to change the perception of the victims in similar cases and build a rapport with them to help prosecute human traffickers.
“I think we are getting a bit of a track record after prevailing on some of these cases where some of the people out there can get help and the trafficker can be sent to prison,” Strong said.
The victims of human trafficking often come from vulnerable backgrounds and get hooked on drugs and then forced into prostitution.
“I think in the past, people have had a tendency to view them as ‘oh, that’s a prostitute.’ our model has been, approach people first as victims, if we have any reason to believe they are victims,” Strong said.