Man pleads guilty to sex trafficking charges

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A Springfield man pleaded guilty to sex trafficking young women around central Illinois.

Officials said 47-year-old Franshon Stapleton was accused of trafficking the women from 2016 to May 2018.

In a news release, officials stated Stapleton was living in a Champaign motel in 2017 and 2018. During that time, he “exploited the vulnerabilities of young women, including their drug addictions and homelessness, to force them to engage in commercial sex acts.” They continued to say the women came from Champaign, Sangamon and Peoria counties.

They said Stapleton used a website, Backpage, to advertise sex acts that would be performed by these women. He would then threaten the women to get them to participate in those sexual acts. “To coerce women into continued sex trafficking, Stapleton supplied them with drugs and threatened to send women into withdrawal sickness by withholding drugs.”

Stapleton was arrested in May 2018. Officials said his plea comes as his trial was set to begin. He pleaded guilty to all charges against him. He is expected to be sentenced on January 29, 2021.

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