Police: Woman says she ‘helped’ runaway girl by pimping her

By LEVI PULKKINEN, Seattlepi.com
 An officer with the Alexandria (Virginia) Police Department monitors an undercover sting operation in a hotel room during Operation Cross Country. (Photo: FBI)
SEATTLE - A Seattle woman accused of pimping a teen runaway after spending her own childhood being sexually exploited now faces child prostitution charges.

King County prosecutors claim Ayesha Lee Barquet won the 17-year-old girl’s trust and convinced her to hand over the money she made through prostitution.

“Barquet stated that in hindsight, she realizes that she ‘helped’ (the girl) in the ‘wrong way,’” a Seattle Police Department detective said in charging papers, recounting an October interview with the young woman.

Barquet was charged along with 32-year-old James Darnell Croone, who is accused of driving Barquet and the girl to “dates.” According to charging papers, Barquet described Croone as “too square to be a pimp.”

Charges came late last month after Barquet and Croone were arrested in a targeted sting operation. Seattle detectives had launched an investigation in August after the girl’s mother reported her missing.

The woman told police she believed her daughter had been picked up from a friend’s home by “Lucy.” She explained to police that Barquet, 22, goes by “Lucy Lovehole” online, the lead detective said in charging papers.

The girl left nearly all her possessions behind when she disappeared in August. Her mother told police she left her laptop computer behind, even though she “lived” through social media.

Contacted by the girl’s mother, Barquet denied having seen or heard from the teen in months, the detective continued. Facebook messages, the detective said, told a different story.

“In some messages, Ayesha Barquet would brag to (the girl) about her planned trips made possible through escorting and prostitution, and attempted to entice and recruit (her) into it,” the detective said in court papers. The teen “would decline, stating that she would prefer to make her money the hard and honest way.”

A week after she disappeared, the girl arrived at Seattle Children’s hospital. Her family tracked her down by scouring prostitution advertisements for her photo, then took her to Children's for medical treatment related to a sexual assault.

According to charging papers, the girl had been staying with Barquet and working as a prostitute at Seattle-area hotels. During one incident, a customer – described as “an old man” in charging papers – viciously, sexually assaulted the girl after she refused to have unprotected sex with him.

Writing the court, the detective said Barquet was less than apologetic about the rape.

“Barquet responded (to a message from the girl) on Facebook … saying that she should not have been ‘whining like a baby’ and that she was bad for business as Ayesha Barquet is publically rated on several escort websites,” the detective told the court.

Police claim Barquet posted photos of the girl on several prostitution-heavy websites, including Backpage.com. Croone, according to charging papers, drove Barquet and the teen to hotels in Shoreline and Auburn.

The girl told police Barquet had agreed to drive her to New York City if she made enough money, according to charging papers. The girl had a friend there whom she’d met online and with whom she had hoped to run away.

But Barquet abandoned her at a Seattle park after she was raped, according to charging papers.

Investigators claim to have discovered several prostitution advertisements featuring Barquet and the girl. According to charging papers, Barquet previously offered her own services around Washington and northern Idaho.

Seattle vice detectives conducted a sting operation on Oct. 26 targeting Barquet. According to charging papers, she and Croone were arrested in Seattle’s Pioneer Square after arriving to meet a detective posing as a customer.

Writing the court, the detective said Croone told police Barquet encouraged the girl to prostitute over his objections. According to police, Croone described himself as opposed to prostitution and uncomfortable with the girl’s age.

Barquet told police she was introduced to prostitution at age 13 by an ex-boyfriend, the detective told the court. She said she’d been prostituting ever since, when she wasn’t incarcerated.

Barquet’s first and only lengthy prison stint came after a 2009 robbery. She was released in 2013, the detective said, and immediately returned to prostitution.

“She stated that … her work in the sex trade was her own decision,” the detective told the court. Barquet, the detective continued, saw prostitution “as a means to pay bills due to her struggle in obtaining good employment because of her status as a convicted felon.”

Working without a pimp, Barquet claimed to work 10 “dates” a day and charge customers $200 per meeting, the detective continued. The detective said Barquet posted ads online to find customers.

The detective said Barquet ultimately admitted to helping the girl work as a prostitute even though Barquet knew she was underage.

“She felt that she did (her) a service because … (she) got ‘prostitution’ out of her system and now knows that it is not for her,” the detective said. “Ayesha Barquet stated that she believed that it was ‘worth it.’”

Both Barquet and Croone have been charged with promoting the commercial sexual abuse of a minor. Croone’s attorney did not return a request for comment, while Barquet did not appear to have been assigned a public defender.

They both remain jailed.


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