Prostitution victim remains in jail while boyfriend awaits trial
A downstate woman who claims she was forced to work as a prostitute for her boyfriend remains held in Lake County jail without a chance to post bail because she is considered a flight risk and might not return to testify in her boyfriend's trial.
Simultaneously, Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti appointed a public defender to represent Aaron Thurmond, 23, of Chicago, after his previous defense attorney was forced to withdraw from the case due to a conflict of interest, prosecutors said.
Both Thurmond and the woman appeared in court Wednesday as part of a pretrial hearing.
The woman remains unidentified by the Daily Herald because she is a victim in the case and because she has not been charged with a crime.
Thurmond remains held in lieu of $250,000 bail after being charged with 18 total counts of involuntary servitude, trafficking in persons, promoting prostitution and conspiring to traffic in persons.
Thurmond and his brother, Jeffrey Horton, 27, also of Chicago, were pulled over by Mundelein police at 12:30 a.m. April 3 for driving with the headlights off on Thurmond's car. During the traffic stop, the woman told officers that Thurmond and his brother were forcing her to have sex with men in Lake County for money, authorities said.
According to police, the woman said she had just completed a sex act with an unidentified man in Wauconda and was being driven to an Antioch home where she was supposed to perform another sex act.
Police said the Antioch appointment was with Lake County sheriff's deputy Eric Francke, 33. Francke has since been placed on unpaid administrative leave and charged with obstruction of justice/destroying evidence and solicitation of a sex act. He is due in court for arraignment Wednesday, July 31. Horton has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy to promote prostitution and testified against Thurmond. Horton was placed on 24 months of probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
The unidentified man in Wauconda has not been charged with a crime.
Prosecutor Fred Day said Thurmond's initial defense attorney, Eric Rinehart of Waukegan, communicated with the unidentified woman after she ignored a subpoena to appear at Thurmond's trial. She was later taken into custody on a warrant in Champaign and has remained in Lake County jail since.
Day said Rinehart filed a petition last week to step down as Thurmond's defense attorney because of the conflict of interest. The public defender was appointed to represent Thurmond in his upcoming trial.