A South Los Angeles prostitute known as “Pretty Hoe” on social media pleaded not guilty Friday to federal sex trafficking charges that include allegations she attempted to enlist underage girls to work for her on the streets.
Melanie Denae Williams, 22, entered her plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar, who set a tentative April 24 trial date.
Williams was named in a five-count indictment alleging one count of sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion; and two counts each of sex trafficking of a minor and enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution.
Williams has been held without bond in a downtown federal lockup since she was taken into custody following her initial Christmas Eve arrest by local authorities, court papers show.
An affidavit outlines Williams’ alleged abuse of a woman she had recruited via social media to work as a prostitute. Williams allegedly ordered the unnamed victim to strip off her clothes, and then threw bleach on the woman and beat her with her hands and a broomstick, according to the affidavit.
Federal prosecutors also contend that Williams forced the suspected victim to tattoo “Melanie” on her face to show she was her property.
Williams — who has a large social media presence on Snapchat and Instagram — was sentenced last year to three months in jail for prostitution, according to the affidavit. She also refers to herself on social media as “the most hated hoe in LA.”
If convicted as charged, Williams faces a possible maximum sentence of life in federal prison, prosecutors said.
–City News Service