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posted: 5/20/2013 7:01 PM

Defense attorney: Accuser recanted in trafficking case

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  • Aaron Thurmond

    Aaron Thurmond


A downstate woman who told police she was the victim of human trafficking has recanted her statements against two Chicago men charged in the case, a defense attorney said Monday.

Defense attorney Eric F. Rinehart told Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti that the unidentified woman now says in video and on her Facebook page that she was never forced to work as a prostitute by Aaron Thurmond, 23, of the 10000 block of Walden Park.

"I spoke with the young lady, and the case is not as the state has presented (previously in bond court)," Rinehart said during Thurmond's bond review. "She talks about her relationship (with Thurmond) as boyfriend and girlfriend on her own Facebook account."

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Jason Grindell acknowledged the woman may have changed the statements she made to police when Thurmond and Jeffrey Horton, 27, of the 10000 block of South Claremont in Chicago, were arrested April 3.

But, he said, many victims in domestic violence situations change their statements after charges are filed, and that Thurmond still put pressure on the victim to do things against her will.

"(Thurmond) is dangerous and violent, both physically and emotionally," Grindel said in court. "Therefore, we believe the bond should remain as is."

Rossetti decided to keep Thurmond's bail at $250,000. He remains held in Lake County jail.

Thurmond and Horton have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of involuntary servitude, trafficking in persons and promoting prostitution following their arrest by Mundelein police.

According to police, the two were traveling with the Champaign-area woman from Wauconda to Antioch when they were pulled over by Mundelein police for driving with their headlights off about 11:15 p.m.

During the traffic stop, the woman told police she was being forced to work as a prostitute by Thurmond and Horton, and the three were heading from a client in Wauconda to meet a client in Antioch.

That Antioch client turned out to be Lake County sheriff's Deputy Eric Francke, 33, of the 43000 block of Forest Drive, authorities said. Francke was charged May 10 with obstructing justice/destroying evidence and solicitation of a sex act and has since been placed on administrative leave without pay.

Horton is free after posting the required 10 percent of his $50,000 bail.

Thurmond is due back in court on May 29 for a pretrial hearing. Horton is due to appear before Rossetti on June 13.

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