A human trafficking ring in Texas has identified a total of 20 men, including a teacher, who sent selfies to solicit sex from a rape victim, authorities said.
One of the suspects, Jim Counts, is an eighth-grade math teacher at Mann Middle School in Abilene and is one of the 20 men accused of raping a “30-year-old Chinese woman at a hotel,” Abilene, Texas Police Chief Stan Standridge said during a news conference on Wednesday.
The Abilene School District confirmed to KTXS 12 that Counts had been placed on administrative leave.
“At no time was the teacher in front of students after we learned that he was part of an ongoing police investigation. The AISD will cooperate fully with the police in this matter,” according to the statement provided to KTXS.
Standridge said while monitoring “dark sites on the internet” in November, the department’s Cyber Crimes Unit learned of an Asian woman who had been made available in Abilene by her “controllers.”
The FBI is assisting in the investigation.
Upon interviewing the woman, Standridge said investigators learned she was one of many Asian women who were being trafficked across the state of Texas and that she was flown to Abilene by her controllers, who live in another state.
“She was here approximately six days and she was trafficked at least 20 times,” Standridge said during the news conference.
Police posted 15 of the selfies on their Facebook page on Tuesday. Eleven have been identified and police are asking the public for help in identifying the four remaining men.
“I can tell you the reason we have their actual selfies is it was a requirement for them to secure the services of the woman being trafficked,” Standridge told the Abilene Reporter News.
Standridge said the suspects face Class B prostitution charges, which can carry jail time of 180 days and a $2,000 fine.