Crime & Courts

Child sex trafficker from Gastonia sentenced to life in prison, his mom gets 10 years

A child sex trafficker from Gastonia was sentenced to life in federal prison this week and his mother to 10 years behind bars.

Samuel “Promise” Pratt, 35, ran a prostitution business involving both adults and minors in the Carolinas and New York, court records show. Two of his trafficking victims were 14 and 17 years old.

Pratt is the first human trafficker convicted at trial in South Carolina, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia. He was found guilty in December on eight counts related to sex trafficking, child pornography and firearms violations.

“The first step on addressing the cancer of human trafficking is to hold the traffickers accountable, and that is what this case and this sentence does,” U.S. Attorney Beth Drake in Columbia said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Those who traffic in sex need to take notice that our office, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute all those who operate in this destructive field,” Drake said.

Pratt’s mother, 53-year-old Daphne Pratt of Gastonia, pled guilty to conspiracy to sex traffic minors and testified against her son. She received a reduced sentence because of her testimony, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Daphne Pratt testified about her son’s control of the minors and her role in running the business at his direction after he was jailed, according to prosecutors. Telephone calls recorded from the jail corroborated her testimony, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak