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A Little Rock man indicted Feb. 4 on a federal witness-tampering charge was ordered Wednesday to remain jailed until his trial, after an FBI agent testified about a sex trafficking investigation that led to the charge.

Special Agent Daniel Turner testified that he was contacted Oct. 31 by Little Rock police about a woman who had been "severely beaten" and "severely prostituted" by Deonte Womack, 45, for several months and "wanted out" but was afraid of Womack.

Turner said he interviewed the woman in November, and she told him how, a day after she met Womack in May, he bought lingerie for her and took pictures of her to post on prostitution websites, and the next day, she began having sex with men and giving all of the money she earned -- $250 for half an hour and $300 for a full hour -- to Womack.

She told the FBI agent that she had sex with an average of three men a day for money, and that Womack insisted on taking all of the money because he provided housing and groceries for her.

Turner said the woman finally left Womack in December, but he kept trying to contact her.

Through that woman, Turner testified, the FBI met a second woman who said she'd had a relationship with Womack for about 12 years and that during part of that time she provided sexual services usually three times a day for two or three days a week, with Womack initially keeping 50% of the money and later keeping 100% of it.

The agent said the second woman said she, too, was afraid to leave Womack, recalling that about 10 years earlier he "choked her until she lost consciousness."

He said the first woman he interviewed also said Womack had choked her and beaten her, and was prone to physically assaulting her whenever she got the courage to argue with him.

Womack was arrested during a traffic stop last month in Bryant that was set up by the FBI, after Womack showed up at a school that the second woman's 15-year-old son attended, to talk to him, Turner said.

The agent testified that Womack told the boy, as well as a third woman the FBI later interviewed, that he wanted them all to "get on the same page" about what they would tell the FBI about his dealings with the women to avoid him being charged or to ensure that if he is charged, it would be only a misdemeanor.

Womack hasn't been charged with sex trafficking, but Turner said he has been investigating Womack through a federal grand jury. He said the witness-tampering charge, a felony, stemmed from allegations that Womack was trying to persuade the boy and the women to minimize his crimes when they talked with the FBI.

Turner testified that he interviewed the third woman, who knows the second woman, on Feb. 6, and she told him that she'd been working for Womack as a prostitute for three years, usually servicing two to five "dates" a day, with all the money going to Womack.

Defense attorney Blake Byrd, who is with the federal public defender's office, showed through his cross-examination of Turner and testimony from Womack's mother that the second woman and her son had a "family" relationship with Womack, who acted as a father to the boy, whose biological father is in prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe ultimately cited Womack's relationship with the woman and her son as among the reasons Womack couldn't be released pending trial. Referring to testimony from Womack's mother that he graduated from Pulaski Academy and Southern Methodist University, where he was a star athlete years ago, Volpe said he was concerned about Womack's character.

"He was given an education and has had every opportunity, and really hasn't done anything with his life," Volpe said. But, he said, "the straw that broke the camel's back was his mom's testimony that he's had a long relationship with Victim Two and her son, and is the type of person who is going to prostitute this person out."

Volpe said that "at a minimum," he would expect someone who considers himself to be a father figure to the boy to treat him and his mother well, "for his son's sake."

"He is manipulative and depraved, and is going to go back out and continue" his behavior, Volpe said, denying the request for release on bond pending trial, saying he considers Womack a danger to the community.

Womack's mother had agreed to act as his third-party custodian, which would require reporting any violations of his release to probation officers, but Volpe said he believes she is "somewhat oblivious" to his actions. He agreed to reconsider the request if Byrd presents another potential third-party custodian.

Metro on 02/13/2020

Print Headline: Tampering-case accused to stay in jail until trial


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