AL teen 'drugged, given alcohol, raped' by suspects charged in human trafficking case

LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Two of four suspects involved in a sex trafficking case across three different east Alabama counties appeared before Judge Steven Speakman in a Lee County Courtroom Wednesday.

Brian Askew, Corey Heard, Laquinta Tarbert, and Courtney Morgan are all being charged with human sex trafficking or rape in the case where a 13-year-old was kidnapped.

The 13-year-old is said to have run away from a detention center in east Alabama, then later picked up and taken to Macon County by an unidentified suspect. The teen was then was taken to Askew's home in Auburn where she says she was drugged, given alcohol, and raped in some cases, according to investigators who have been on this case since it was first reported in October.

"Sex trafficking is a huge issue and it's getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger almost by the day," Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said.

Brian Askew charged with human trafficking and Corey Heard charged with rape had their preliminary hearing Wednesday

New testimony uncovers the alleged victim was held in a home where a guard stood at the door to make sure she didn't escape.

According to the DA,  Askew was cashing in, selling the young girl for sex.

Laquinta Tarbert and Courtney Morgan were also arrested and charged with human trafficking in the last day.

Morgan's mother took the stand today claiming the 13-year-old was brought to her house in Tallasee, AL where she took a shower and was "cleaned up."

The mother also says she gave the young girl an extra cell phone, which she eventually used to call her parents to notify them she was in trouble and met them at the Opelika Police Department after she escaped from the suspects' custody.

"There's a number of individuals involved there was a lot of people in and out of there and we are in the process of investigating that we could've seen the last of the arrest but there could be more if we can identify some other folks that were identified in this," Hughes said.

Judge Speakman said in court that this case will be presented to a grand jury at a later date.

All four suspects are in the Lee County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

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