Alleged pimp arrested here

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Columbia native who's been living in Smyrna was arrested at a Cornersville Road apartment complex Sunday on charges alleging he pimped a juvenile run-away and a Lewisburg woman for dates arranged on an Internet Web site, according to a city police report issued Wednesday afternoon.

The suspect, William Bradley "Rudy" Lee, 26, is no stranger to local lawmen. In November 2009, he was sentenced in Marshall County Circuit Court to nine years for a parole violation.

He'd been paroled in May 2008 from a 2002 aggravated robbery conviction, but "reliable information ... reached the Board of Probation and Parole that ...(he)... violated the conditions ... and has lapsed or is about to lapse into criminal ways or company and is thereby declared to be a fugitive from justice," public records state.

A $1.5 million bond was set for Lee, who's being held in the Rutherford County Jail on 49 counts of statutory rape, charges leveled by Smyrna Police, Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley said. Lee is also charged with promoting prostitution.

Lewisburg and Smyrna Police are asking the public for help in finding other juvenile victims of the sex trade allegedly led by Lee, according to reports from national TV affiliates in Nashville.

There are "definitely more," Henley said.

Smyrna Police broke the case.

A 16-year-old girl told investigators she'd been working for Lee in Marshall, Davidson and Rutherford counties, according to police and media reports. Henley said the juvenile is from Middle Tennessee. A Lewisburg woman, believed to be 20, was allegedly working for Lee, Henley said. Wednesday, lawmen were deciding what charges might be filed against her. The juvenile is seen as a victim of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.

"We're hoping that people who know about the younger-age girls will come forward" to get them out of the situation, Henley said.

Lee's arrest was at about 9 a.m. Sunday when "a search warrant was executed at an apartment at the Northgate Arms Apartments located at 1038 Cornersville Road," a Lewisburg Police press release states. "Participating in the execution of the search warrant were agents and officers from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Franklin Police, Smyrna Police and ... Lewisburg Police."

Asked if the women associated with Lee were working in all four jurisdictions, Henley replied, "Yes. It would appear that way."

Lee doesn't have a car, nor is he married, Henley said. "From what I can tell, he lived at several different places at any given time. From what we know now, he was operating alone."

He agreed that Lee's operation was not sophisticated.

"They would meet clients at home, or they would go out," the detective sergeant said, estimating fees and times at "$100-$200 for a period of time lasting 30-60 minutes."

Henley could not discuss the evidence collected during the search of the Cornersville Road apartment, but he allowed that police realized there had been recreational use of illegal drugs, he said.

Specifically asked about computers, Henley again declined to be specific, thereby raising questions about customer lists, an issue raised late Wednesday at the Marshall County Courthouse.

"I can't discuss that," Henley said of computers. "That's the TBI's part of the investigation. They took several items from the house."

The alleged sex ring offering liaisons with females through the Internet has been in operation for "at least a year," Henley said. "We were aware of something going on in our jurisdiction at that time. We were just trying to ascertain who and what was occurring."

Customers were responding to an "open advertisement on the Internet, the same thing we were finding in August," Henley said.

On Aug. 13, Lewisburg Police Detective James "Pugs" Johnson reported a 30-year-old Springfield, Tenn., woman and a 22-year-old Lebanon, Tenn., woman were charged with prostitution at a Lewisburg motel, their agreed meeting place after contacts through a Web site. Months earlier, Web-based contacts led to liaisons that led to arrests in Columbia.

During the investigation that was revealed Wednesday, "it was determined Lee had other girls working for him in Rutherford, Davidson and Marshall Counties," Lewisburg Police said. "This investigation is ongoing and more charges are anticipated, including possible charges in Lewisburg."

Local police appreciate the public's support and ask anyone with information on this or other crimes to please call Crime Stoppers at 359-4867 or Lewisburg Police criminal investigators at 359-3800. Smyrna Police may be called at 615-267-5146.

As for Lee's previous criminal record, he was arrested on July, 25, 2002, by then Lewisburg Detective Cpl. Kevin Patin on an especially aggravated robbery charge while using a handgun, court records show. Between $500 to $1,000 cash was taken from a victim identified as Demetrie Owens during a robbery in Lewisburg on July 2, 2002.

Significant assistance in Lee's case came from the Franklin Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, started in 2005. Before that, Knoxville Police had the only ICAC Task Force in Tennessee.

"Inundated with cases in Middle Tennessee, Knoxville Police approached us and asked that we join forces," Franklin Police Sgt. Charles Warner said. "Soon after ... Franklin Police ... became the first ICAC Task Force satellite agency in the region."

Now, "FPD's ICAC Task Force is a driving force in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of child sex predators who use the Internet to exploit children in Franklin, and in greater Middle Tennessee," Warner said. "Our resources and expertise provide support to surrounding jurisdictions investigating crimes of this nature, and we maintain strong partnerships with the TBI and the FBI.

"In this case, we provided investigative support and assistance but are not the prosecuting authority," he said. "Because of that, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on this particular case."

Lee is due in Smyrna General Sessions Court Feb. 11.