Girls in their early teens were headed to Foxwoods Resort Casino with a 27-year-old man earlier this week before cops stopped them. The girls were runaways and the man later was arrested in Connecticut.
Phillip A. Tanner, 27, of Torrington, Conn. was charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor, The Day, a Connecticut newspaper, reported. He allegedly picked up the girls and another young female in Ledyard, Conn.
They were heading to the nearby Foxwoods Casino to meet up with other people, police said. Authorities did not specify what activities the girls were going to take part in once at the casino.
Police stopped a car in the middle of the night on Route 2 in Preston, Conn., The Day said. The girls were passengers.
The girls were 13, 14 and 15 years old, based on court information. They were under the care of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families.
One of the teens was described in court documents as “a chronic runaway with an extensive history of being possibly human trafficked,” WFSB, a local TV station, reported.
It is unclear how old the fourth female was, though one news report identified her as a teenager.
Suspect Remains in Jail
Tanner was being held on $100,000 bail in Connecticut’s Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center as of Saturday. He was arraigned on Wednesday in New London, Conn. Superior Court.
During a court appearance, Judge Kevin Shay, said he was “very troubled” by the case, WFSB said.
The judge ordered Tanner to avoid visits to Connecticut casinos, avoid a youth home in Ledyard where one or more of the girls were living, and ruled Tanner cannot have any contact with the girls, the report said. Tanner is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 31.
Story Not Credible
Tanner claimed to police he was driving to Foxwoods to meet one of the girl’s boyfriends, the report said. He also claimed he did not know they were minors. Tanner picked up one of the girls previously before this week’s incident, authorities said.
This story doesn’t seem credible. It seems concerning in the day and age of so much sex trafficking and human trafficking,” Shay added, according to WFSB. “Even if that’s not what’s going on, picking up four wards of the state at this hour and driving them to a casino seems to be a risk of injury in itself, even if there’s not other things going on.”
Before his recent appointment as a state judge, Shay was a Connecticut senior assistant state’s attorney and Special Assistant US Attorney in Connecticut. He also formerly worked as a lawyer for Connecticut Legal Services.
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