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Accused of sex trafficking, Auburn man pleads not guilty

A 33-year-old Auburn man pleaded not guilty Aug. 1 to four federal counts involving the sex trafficking of two female victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.

A federal grand jury in Seattle indicted John Henry Cyprian Jr. in late July.

His trial is in October. The Seattle King County Public Defender's Office is defending him. At his detention hearing Aug. 5, he was ordered detained, Emily Langlie of the U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday.

In June the Bellevue Police Department arrested Cyprian Jr., a.k.a. "Lucky," and booked him into state custody following its investigation into Cyprian's sex trafficking of two different women, in Western Washington and in Portland, Ore. The grand jury indicted Cyprian on two counts of sex trafficking through force, fraud, and coercion and two counts of transportation for the purpose of prostitution through coercion and enticement.

The charges are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Police arrested Cyprian at a condominium he was renting in Auburn, but the investigation revealed that between April 2013 and his arrest in June he had rented hotel rooms throughout the greater Seattle area as part of his prostitution scheme. According to records filed in the case, Cyprian forced the women to work as prostitutes at hotels in SeaTac, Bellevue, Mountlake Terrace, and in Portland. To advertise the women, he posted ads on Backpage.com and other adult sexual services websites. Cyprian allegedly controlled the women with beatings and threats as he forced them to give him all the money they earned as prostitutes.

"Traffickers prey upon vulnerable women – convincing them that they have nowhere to go, and even less value. It takes courage to break the bonds an abusive pimp uses to keep his victims under control," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "We will continue to work closely with state prosecutors to ensure that violent sex traffickers cannot prey on the most vulnerable in our communities – whether they are juveniles or adults."

"This case is yet another example of the Bellevue Police Department working with federal prosecutors to address the issue of human sex trafficking," said Bellevue Police Chief Jim Montgomery. "We will continue to work hand in hand with our partners, both at the federal level as well as locally, to address this important issue."

Sex trafficking through force, fraud or coercion is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 15 years and up to life in prison and at least five years and up to life of supervised release. Transportation for the purpose of prostitution through coercion and enticement is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and up to three years of supervised release.

The Bellevue Police Department investigated the case with help from the Mountlake Terrace Police Department and the FBI. United States Assistant Attorney Kate Crisham is prosecuting the case.

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