A Jonesboro man is accused of forcing girls to engage in sex acts for money and advertising the services of a child on an escort website, authorities said.
Zachary Westley Smith, 25, was charged Tuesday with trafficking of persons and distributing/possessing/viewing matter depicting sexual conduct involving a child. He appeared Thursday in Craighead County Circuit Court, where his trial was set for August.
Jonesboro Police Department officers said that on May 10 they became aware of an advertisement on a known escort website that showed nude photos of a girl. The girl was contacted and a search of her phone showed messages from a "Ziggy," who was later identified as Smith, that mentioned the pictures.
The girl depicted in the advertisement spoke to officers May 13 and confirmed that Smith had taken the photos several months earlier. She also said Smith used physical violence to force her and other women and girls to engage in sex acts for money with men at hotels in the Jonesboro area and that Smith would take all the money afterward.
The girl said Smith was always armed with a handgun and he physically assaulted the women and girls if they didn't agree to commit the sex acts.
Smith was arrested two days later and bail was set at $250,000, according to jail records.
State Desk on 06/29/2019
Print Headline: After photos spotted, man faces sex case