Police have caught and arrested a 30-year-old man they believe was involved in prostituting a runaway juvenile girl he met earlier this month. The victim was allegedly forced to commit sexual acts for cash at the hotel. Joel-Davis Covington, also known as “Cash,” was taken into police custody at a Quality Inn and Suites hotel. He’s facing five counts of managing a child prostitute and transportation for purpose of prostitution charges.
During interviews, the victim told officers that she worked as a prostitute in the northwest Phoenix area and that Covington had been her “pimp” since she met him earlier in July. Police discovered that the victim was also forced to advertise her services on the website backpage.com. On this site, girls were expected to put up advertisements offering services including massages and escorting.
Investigators say the victim was recently contacted by a “trick” and they went back to the hotel. When the man changed his mind, he wanted his money back and wouldn’t leave the room without it. That’s when authorities say the 16-year-old called “Cash” about the situation. Covington came to the room and threatened the man by showing him a gun in his waistband.
Shortly after the man left the hotel room, the victim was approached by two men and an agreement to have sex was made. She returned to the hotel with one of the men while the other stayed in his car. The man gave her all the money in his wallet, but refused to leave the room when it didn’t work out. The victim called “Cash” again. When he entered the room, he once again revealed his gun to the man, who left the scene and some of his clothes behind.
Police say the victim’s cell phone number was in backpage.com’s escort service ads, along with pictures and her belongings were in the hotel room. The victim was also shown a picture of Covington on Facebook.com and positively identified him as “Cash.” She explained to police that she gave him all of the money she made prostituting and he took care of her. Authorities say Covington had knowledge of the victim’s age and the activities she was involved in. A search warrant was executed at the hotel room and the clothing the victim wore while being photographed was found.
Covington was released from custody on Monday. A status conference was scheduled for August 6, followed by a preliminary hearing on August 9.