Trafficked woman was branded, 'controlled in every way'

Marion County man faces charges

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A Marion County man is accused of forcing a woman into prostitution, promoting her on "sex websites" and taking all the money she was given during those encounters, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Ryan Poole, 32, exploited the female victim and forced her to perform acts of prostitution in Marion, Alachua, Orange, Hillsborough and Charlotte counties.

Detectives said Poole controlled the woman's life for about a year.

"She was very much exploited and controlled in every way and he had that control over her," said Lauren Lettelier, Marion County Sheriff's Office spokesperson. "And she was forced to do these things and perform these sexual acts because of his direction."

The investigation leading to the arrest took five months.

Detectives said Poole met his victim through a social media website.

According to Poole's arrest affidavit, Poole "took control of all her money, sold her, branded her with a tattoo, and forced her to call him 'daddy'".

The victim told detectives, according to the affidavit, she would "crawl to him and kiss his feet... she did "everything" for the defendant including cooking, cleaning, and household chores... she felt she was "held hostage" at her house."

Detectives said Poole threatened the victim with violence.

A second woman was also solicited to perform "online sexual activities," but she parted ways with Poole and the victim after one session, according to a news release.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will be prosecuting the case since the crimes occurred in multiple jurisdictions.

“Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime and the allegations in this case are sickening -- further proving that we must do everything we can to eliminate human trafficking in Florida,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said. “Working with our great law enforcement partners like Marion County Sheriff Emery Gainey and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the subject of this investigation was arrested and justice will be served.”

Poole is charged with human trafficking, living off earnings of a prostitute and one count of using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

Detectives said it's possible that Poole could have more victims who haven't been located.

"We are very concerned there may be other victims out there who have not come forward," Det. Zackary, with the Hughes of the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said.

This arrest marks the third human trafficking arrest made in the history of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

"Right now we're looking at one victim, but we also know that there's other Ryan Pooles out there," Hughes said. "There's other people doing the same type of activity even here in Marion County, even here in Ocala. We want that opportunity to locate the victims, give them the services they need so we can help them."

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Zackary Hughes at 352-369-6805.

About the Authors:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.