Akron couple first in Summit County to face ‘trafficking in persons’ charges

AKRON, Ohio-- A man and a woman from Akron are the first in Summit County to be charged with "trafficking in persons," the prosecutor's office says.

A grand jury indicted Darren Townsend, 37, and Pearl Coffey, 34, on two counts of trafficking in persons, six counts of compelling prostitution and three counts of promoting prostitution. They also face drug-related charges.

According to the indictments, a victim was 16 years old or younger. The alleged crimes happened between August 2016 and February 2017.

Townsend and Coffey will be arraigned Monday at 11 a.m.

The Summit County Prosecutor's Office worked on the case with the help of the Independence Police Department and the Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Force.

"Trafficking in persons" first became a chargeable offense in Ohio in 2011. Since then, there have been fewer than two dozen such trials in the state, the prosecutor's office said. Before that time, most human trafficking cases in Ohio were handled by federal authorities.