A young Florida woman signed what she believed to be a lucrative modeling contract with no end date. Less than two months later, she called police to ask for help fleeing what she described as a horrifying sex trafficking home.
Earlier this month, federal authorities were called to the scene at a Sandy Springs, Georgia, mansion, after the Florida woman placed a desperate 911 call. She and seven other women were being held against their will in the home and made to work at strip clubs by a gang-affiliated sex trafficker, the woman alleged. Police arrested Kenndric Roberts, 33, on charges on human trafficking and false imprisonment. His alleged victims claimed he kept them in the house with threats of extreme violence.
But Mike Maloof Sr., Roberts’s lawyer, points to the contracts the women allegedly signed as proof that Roberts is not a human trafficker, but a “poor man’s Hugh Hefner” who had legitimately hired the women.
The case began early March 7, when a woman called 911 from the Georgia mansion using what she described as a “company phone.” Her own phone had been confiscated. If her boss knew that she was trying to leave, he would kill her, she said.
The woman, 20, had moved to Georgia from Florida in January, after meeting Roberts on Seeking Arrangement, a “sugar daddy” dating site, according to an affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast. Roberts allegedly messaged her on the site, telling her that he ran a company called “Live Star Nation,” which managed athletes and models. This claim was at least partially correct, insofar as business records list Roberts as the chief executive of a company called Live Star Nation Boxing, as well as the CEO of a number of other extravagantly named companies with no readily available description, all of which listed their addresses as P.O. boxes in Norcross, Georgia.
In his messages, Roberts allegedly claimed to manage a group of women called the “diamond kitties.” The woman agreed to stay with him in his Georgia mansion to “feel it out” for three days, during which she was treated well, she told police. She signed the lucrative modeling contract with no clear end date. But when she moved into the house full-time, the home became a prison, she alleged.
The young woman’s first complaints were not to police, but to her mother, who began to suspect that the “modeling” company was not all it claimed to be. On Jan. 19, shortly after her daughter moved into Roberts’s house, she called police “to report that her daughter may be involved in some form of prostitution because she originally moved to Georgia to work for a modeling company but now she only refers to a ‘he’ or ‘him’ and not a company,” the affidavit reads.
Her daughter allegedly described questionable practices in the home. Roberts allegedly sent the 20-year-old woman to the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery, but when the young woman returned, told her that she would have to stay in the home until her debt to him was paid.
The young woman also complained of constant surveillance in the house.
“The daughter describes the place that having cameras in the rooms and microphones,” the affidavit reads. “Reporter is not sure if anything her daughter is telling her is true or just lies.”
During the day, Roberts sent the eight women to work at strip clubs, the woman alleged. But even there, they were cut off from their money, and kept under surveillance. Roberts would allegedly collect the women’s money at the end of the night, and hire people to keep an eye on them while they worked, ensuring that they did not speak to anyone.
“[Roberts] stated that, though he was taking all their money, he would double what they earned at the end of their contract,” the affidavit claims. But some elements of the work seemed more like slavery.
All the women at the house were tattooed with numbers, the woman alleged, and Roberts’s now-deleted Instagram suggested the same. The numbers were allegedly gang-related. Prosecutors accuse Roberts of being a member of the Gangster Disciples, a group in which the acronym “LOP,” or “Loyalty Over Pride,” is a type of motto. Roberts was allegedly known among friends as “King Lop.” Among the numbers tattooed on every woman’s wrist were “12 15 16,” which correspond to L, O, and P. The 20-year-old Florida woman told police that the women weren’t necessarily forced to get the tattoos. But violence was an implicit threat in Roberts’s home, multiple women told police.
The woman told police that Roberts was sexually involved with all the women in the home. “She advised that while the sex wasn’t ‘forced’ she felt like she couldn’t say no,” the affidavit reads. Another woman in the house told police that Roberts had raped a third woman, and that she lived in fear of Roberts because he carried an AK-47, and she believed him to be a member of the Gangster Disciples. Roberts gave the women marijuana and narcotics, multiple claimed.
The 20-year-old wanted to leave, she told police. But Roberts allegedly confiscated her phone and cut off her communications from friends. “She stated that Roberts had threatened her on numerous times, one instance where he stated he was going to pay someone to cut her chest open, take out the implants and cut her up,” the affidavit alleges. “He has threatened violence against family members of some of the other girls.”
Finally, on the morning of March 7, the young woman was able to sneak upstairs with a “company phone” while the other girls slept. She called 911, but cautioned them not to send police to the door. Roberts had threatened to kill her, she said, and between the security cameras in the house and the fences outside, officers wouldn’t make it to the door undetected. Besides, she told police, “everyone else wants to be there.”
Roberts has since been arrested on human trafficking and false imprisonment charges. But the young woman’s statement that the other women lived at the house voluntarily, and the allegation that they had signed contracts, might complicate the case.
During a trial last week, in which Roberts faced 14 felony charges, including six counts of human trafficking, six counts of false imprisonment, and weapons charges, his lawyer argued that Roberts wanted nothing more than to operate a legitimate modeling company, and was innocent of human trafficking.
Roberts was a “poor man’s Hugh Hefner,” Maloof said, according to WSBTV, pointing to the contracts the women had signed upon moving into his home. “He thought he was going to have a big entertainment company and these women were going to be models and that was their game plan.”
The women were free to leave, Maloof claimed, but chose to stay in the house for the lavish gifts Roberts showered upon them. Maloof’s argument worked—for a day.
On Thursday, a judge ruled to toss all Roberts’s charges, except two false imprisonment counts and one weapons charge. Roberts was granted release on an $80,000 bond. But the following day, a grand jury effectively reversed the ruling, indicting him on the previously tossed human trafficking charges. The jury also slapped Roberts with a new charge for street gang participation, while a Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney revoked his bond.
“It was distressing because we thought that it put our victims in a state of vulnerability,” District Attorney Paul Howard said. “We thought that it was important that this defendant remain in jail.”