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“Group home” involved in alleged sex trafficking had a previous prostitution investigation

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two men who were arrested this week for allegedly holding a woman against her will and forcing her to engage in prostitution at a “group home” were previously investigated after a different woman accused them of forcing her to engage in sex with as many as 20 men over a one-week period.

A report from the Gainesville Police Department details an investigation that started on May 1, 2022, when a woman called 911 from the McDonald’s on NW 13th Street, near the address associated with Safe Hands Group Home, owned by Kevarius King. The woman told police that she was dating Justin “Mike” Hoyt and had been staying at King’s home (the same address as the group home) for about a week; she said the two men had been prostituting her.

The investigation was closed after an investigation that included examination of text messages between all three parties determined that the woman had voluntarily engaged in the sexual acts and had voluntarily given part of her earnings to the two men. The evidence at the scene did not corroborate key parts of the woman’s story, which included a lock on the outside of the bedroom door and light switches that were duct-taped in the “on” position. Officers who went to the home immediately after interviewing the woman took pictures that showed a normal bedroom door lock and no tape on the light switches.

Although the woman claimed that she had just escaped from the two men, Hoyt reportedly said he was aware that the woman was engaging in prostitution, but he didn’t like it, and that he had gotten upset after she had sex with a relative of his. He said he and King left the house after that incident, and when they got back, they saw the woman at McDonald’s with the police. Both men stopped and talked to the police at that time. Hoyt reportedly said that incident was the “last straw” and that he believed the woman called the police because he was upset with her.

Officers also learned that the men drove the woman to her job in Ocala on three different days during the week and that she could have asked for help at any time while at work but willingly went with them every night, even texting Hoyt that she had bought condoms and a lubricant. The investigation found that although there was evidence that King had used the woman’s phone to arrange the meetings with various men, there was no evidence suggesting that the prostitution was forced.

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Although the victim in this week’s case said that the “group home” partnered with homeless shelters, Alachua County has no contracts with the business, and GRACE Marketplace Executive Director Jon DeCarmine said he didn’t know anything about Safe Hands Group Home. DeCarmine said GRACE does not typically work with “so-called ‘group homes’ as a rule, as many of them are questionable in terms of the quality of housing and the requirements they place on people.” He said some group homes promise low-cost, all-inclusive housing, but then they demand that residents turn over their food stamp and bank cards when they move in.

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