The suspect who allegedly took a woman from a North Carolina rehab center and forced her into sex trafficking in the Myrtle Beach-area could be free as he awaits trial.
A judge set bond for Dequan Blakeney, 26, at $125,000 during a Thursday Horry County Circuit Court hearing. Blakeney is charged with human trafficking and has been held without bond since his July arrest.
It’s unknown if Blakeney can post the bond as his defense attorney said his family has limited financial means and asked for a maximum bail of $30,000. If he is released, Blakeney will be required to live in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area with his family and wear GPS monitoring.
Assistant Solicitor Mary Ellen Walter said Blakeney picked up the victim from a North Carolina rehab facility. He then brought the 22-year-old woman and another victim to the Myrtle Beach area and sex trafficked them, Walter said.
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The victim initially told Charlotte-Mecklenburg police that Blakeney kidnapped her from the rehab facility, but has since recanted that statement. The state does not know why she changed her account, Walter said.
Blakeney initially was charged with human trafficking, kidnapping and third-degree assault but only was indicted on the trafficking charge. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Defense attorney Martin Spratlin argued that police determined after Blakeney’s arrest there was no kidnapping and Blakeney and the victim were together. Authorities withdrew the kidnapping warrant.
Walter said text messages show Blakeney threatening force in the prostitution plot. The 22-year-old had a black eye when she spoke to police after she escaped in the Myrtle Beach area.
“She did indicate she was scared of this defendant,” Walter said.
The victim initially said she was taken to multiple cities in the region, police reported. The other victim escaped in the Atlanta area.
Walter also detailed Blakeney’s extensive criminal history in North Carolina, including multiple counts of breaking and entering and larceny.
Judge Larry Hyman said he considered Blakeney a flight risk because he lived out of state and the nature of the allegations. If Blakeney posts bond and doesn’t return for his court date, the judge wants a bail bond company to be responsible for finding him.
“These are very serious charges,” Hyman said.