ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis County man who prostituted a homeless single mother in 2018 was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Friday.
Phillip L. Cotton met the woman via Instagram in January 2018 and convinced her he could help the single mom struggling with serious financial issues, including homelessness. Cotton was using a variation of the “Wanted escorts” username, his plea agreement says. She lived in Philadelphia.
She flew to Las Vegas in November 2018, where Cotton asked a photographer to take pornographic photos of her that he used in prostitution ads and sold online, according to the plea. He took her back to St. Louis County, where he posted online prostitution ads, and sent her to the Chicago area, where she worked as a prostitute at a company, “Spa Paris”, led by Cotton’s friend. She handed over money to Cotton and his friend, according to the plea.
In November or December 2018, Cotton brought her back to St. Louis, where he organized further acts of prostitution.
She asked “to be allowed” to return home to see her 5-year-old son, and while in Pennsylvania in early 2019, she called a national helpline for help, according to the plea.
In July, Cotton pleaded guilty in United States District Court in St. Louis to the felony of coercion and inducement to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution. He earned at least $ 10,000 by trafficking the woman, according to the plea.