A man suspected of forcing a woman into prostitution and beating her is behind bars after he was arrested last week and charged with human trafficking, pimping and pandering, among other felony charges, according to Redwood City police and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Devonne Richardson, 28, of Elk Grove, was suspected of assaulting a 26-year-old woman he had allegedly forced to work as a prostitute in various Bay Area cities, police said.
Redwood City police were initially alerted on Aug. 18 after responding to a domestic violence call downtown, and found that the suspect had fled. The victim initially denied any domestic violence, but officers sensed she was uneasy and took her to a temporary shelter facility, police said.
After further interviews with the woman, investigators learned more about the allegations against Richardson, according to police.
The victim told police that she had been working as prostitute for about a month, and that Richardson had a wide reach of clients throughout the Bay Area. He allegedly threatened to send nude photographs to her parents if she didn't work for him, police said.
The woman told police that Richardson kept all of her money, her cellphone and identification, and denied her food and forced her to sleep in his car.
Richardson was spotted on Friday by Merced police after receiving a hit on an automatic license plate reader triggered by information entered by Redwood City police into a wanted criminal database.
Richardson allegedly said he wanted to hire his own lawyer when he appeared in court for the first time Friday, and will return to court Aug. 31 for appearance of a retained attorney and to enter a plea to his charges. He does not have a previous record in the county and is in custody on $500,000 bail, according to prosecutors.