|Timothy McCullouch Jr.|
By Aaron Martinez
A former El Paso County juvenile probation officer charged in connection with a sex-trafficking ring worked with the underage girls he allegedly forced into prostitution, according to court testimony Friday.
Timothy McCullouch Jr., 28, had 10 documented incidents dealing with the two teenage girls, ages 15 and 17, according to testimony by Julio Lara, a special agent for Homeland Security Investigations which spearheaded the investigation.
Lara testified during a detention hearing for McCullouch in federal court.
McCullouch had contact with the girls at the Samuel F. Santana Challenge Academy, Lara said. The academy, operated by the probation department, is a military-styled program combined with treatment that relies heavily on education and counseling for high-risk juvenile offenders, according to its website.
Officials for the juvenile probation department declined to comment on the case.
Earlier this week, Roger Martinez, head of the juvenile probation department, told the El Paso Times he was advised by lawyers not to disclose any information about McCullouch.
McCullouch no longer works for the El Paso County Juvenile Probation Department, McCullouch's lawyer Sherilyn Ann Bunn said during the hearing. He is a former defensive back for the University of Texas at El Paso football team from 2005 to 2007, according to a UTEP player biography and the El Paso Times archives. McCullouch is originally from Long Beach, Calif.
Bunn had no further comment after the hearing. During the hearing, Bunn said McCullouch maintains he never forced anyone into sex or took any money.
Lara said McCullouch denied meeting the girls as part of his work and said he did not know the ages of the girls during an initial interview. Lara said investigators have evidence that McCullouch filled out transfer paperwork with the date of births of the victims.
Investigators also interviewed other probation officers who identified the victims and confirmed McCullouch had worked with the girls.
McCullouch told investigators during the interview that he first met the two victims at an El Paso-area hotel room with Richard Gray, Lara said. Gray, 24, was also charged in connection with the alleged sex-trafficking ring.
According to Lara, McCullouch told investigators he tried to have sex with the girls but did not force them. The teenage girls, identified only as A.J. and L.A., told investigators McCullouch and Gray forced them into prostitution. McCullouch allegedly was in charge of prostituting A.J., Lara said.
McCullouch faces charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of children. McCullouch's alleged role in the sex-trafficking ring occurred from June 27, 2012, to July 10, 2012, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney to deny McCullouch bail because he had contacts within law enforcement and the probation department and could use those connections to find the teenage girls. Prosecutors said they believe McCullouch could pose a threat to the victims. Also, prosecutors argued that McCullouch was a flight risk.
Garney denied bail.
McCullouch, also known as T.J., and Gray, known as Crenshaw, are two of five men charged in the alleged sex-trafficking ring. Gray and the other men charged, who are Deion "Memphis" Lockhart, 25; Brandon Shapiro, 21, aka "Chicago" and "B'radd; "Tai Von Trigg" Lynch, 20; and Emmanual "E Jay" Lockhart, 23, are members of the Folk Nation-Gangster Disciples street gang, authorities said.
El Paso Police Department's Gang Unit identified McCullouch as a gang member, Lara testified. It is not known whether McCullouch was a member of the Folk Nation-Gangster Disciples street gang.
The alleged sex-trafficking ring ran from May 2012 to March 2013, the indictment charges. McCullouch and the other men allegedly forced girls and women to work as prostitutes in El Paso, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Colorado and Killeen, Texas, officials said in a news release.
Prosecutors alleged the men held the victims against their will and would beat them if they did not work as prostitutes.
A victim being threatened and forced into sex-trafficking by a person they know and trust is nothing uncommon, said John Martin, executive director for the Paso del Norte Center of Hope.
"This is what trafficking is, and it happens quite regularly," Martin said. "When you look at a person in a trusted position, like a parent or in a case like the one we are talking about, someone using their office. So when you have the information that he was having contact to these individuals through his office, it is not surprising."
The numbers to call and report suspected cases of trafficking are the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 and the Center of Hope at 231-8882.