by: Shae Rozzi Updated:JONESBORO, Ga. —
A Clayton County woman was arrested on charges related to sex trafficking of a 14-year-old girl.
Jessica Washington, of Jonesboro, is being held at the Clayton County Jail on multiple charges. Channel 2 Action News had the only camera there Wednesday as state investigators removed evidence from her apartment on Upper Riverdale Road.
The investigation was sparked by a 14-year-old female runaway who informed her caseworker that Washington would provide her shelter if she performed sex acts with men. Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are now searching for a 16-year-old who they believe was also a victim.
Sandra Putnam, Special Agent in Charge of the GBI’s Child Sex Trafficking Unit, told Channel 2’s Shae Rozzi that men would respond to Internet ads placed by Washington, or by word of mouth.
“People would get in touch with Ms. Washington and people would set up meetings here at the apartment complex to have sex with juveniles,” Putnam said.
She explained that over the last two years, the GBI has learned a lot more about child sex-trafficking and while agents once viewed runaways as criminals, they’re now treated as victims.
“The officers go the extra mile to identify that it really is in fact a child,” Putnam said. “A lot of times these victims will give the officers fake IDs, fake addresses and dates of birth to indicate that they are adults whereas in fact, they are children.”
Putnam said the GBI worked with the Georgia State Patrol to get a high-risk, no-knock warrant that allowed GSP SWAT members to burst through the door.
The 14-year-old victim told authorities that Washington kept several guns inside the home, but no weapons were found.
Washington wasn’t there at the time, so agents waited for her in the parking lot and blocked her in as soon as she drove into a parking space. She was arrested on the spot.
“I couldn’t believe that it was even happening in our complex,” said Laura Bell, who lives in the neighboring building.
“I have a 14-year-old granddaughter. I just can’t believe it. It’s really, really bad and sad for someone to even do that to somebody’s child,” she added.