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Racine police say a 37-year-old Racine man is facing felony charges for pimping a woman out of his car and keeping her captive there as well.
Kristopher Mitchell was charged Thursday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count each of human trafficking and false imprisonment. If convicted, he faces up to 31 years in jail and/or up to $110,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, officers received a report of women being trafficked out of a white Cadillac in the 1900 block of Memorial Drive. Police at 5 a.m. Wednesday found the vehicle in question at that location and observed through the windows that someone was in the backseat covered by a blanket.
When officers made contact with the individual, the woman told them she was not allowed to leave the car and that an alarm would go off if she opened the door. Police say the woman opened the door and it did set off an alarm. A man – later identified as Mitchell – exited a nearby building but tried to flee by going back inside when he saw officers. When police caught up to Mitchell, he said the woman was homeless and he was helping her out by letting her stay in his car.
The woman told police she was from Minnesota and was in “a bad situation” after coming to Racine with another man. She met Mitchell earlier this fall and said he promised to help her out by letting her sleep in his car, the complaint reads. She was not allowed at his house because he didn’t want his children or their mother to see the woman.
Police say MItchell posted ads for “dates” at Backpage.com, and he drove the woman to various locations in Milwaukee and Racine to meet different men, even supplying condoms for the “dates.” Mitchell reportedly told the woman what to charge for which service and then made her give him the money. He also supplied the woman with drugs and choked her when she would protest having to go on “dates.”
The woman told Mitchell she wanted to leave and see her child, but he said, “It is not working out like that,” the complaint reads.
When officers interviewed Mitchell, he said the woman paid for his gas so she could collect money owed to her by men in Milwaukee and Racine. Investigators say it is common in human trafficking cases for men to make victims pay for their gas and food as a way of controlling the women. Mitchell also told police that he was in love with the woman but he couldn’t have her stay at his house because he didn’t want his children or their mother to know about her, according to the criminal complaint.
Mitchell consented to a search of his cell phone and tried to pass off the text messages as belonging to the woman, but police matched numbers in the phone to numbers listed in the ads at Backpage.com, the complaint reads.
The defendant remains in the Racine County Jail on a $25,000 bond. He will next be in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 29.
Racine police Sgt. Jessie Metoyer confirmed with Racine County Eye that the Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking is aware of the situation and is putting steps together to get the woman the help and services she needs.