By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida certified public accountant has been charged with human trafficking after being accused of keeping three women as sex slaves in Gainesville.
Timothy Deegan, 53, remained behind bars on Thursday on a $300,000 bond following his arrest last Friday. Neighbors said they were bewildered how he stayed in operation for more than a year despite two related arrests and numerous law enforcement visits to his home.
"Where are the people that are supposed to keep these people out of circulation?' said George Shorter, president of the local homeowners' association.
Deegan forced the women into prostitution from his home in an upper middle class neighborhood of Gainesville and posted video of himself having sex with them online, according to Becky Butscher, spokeswoman for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
"They were not able to leave because, number one, they were in fear," Butscher said.
Deegan will plead not guilty, his lawyer said. "There is nothing Mr. Deegan did do with these young women that was not consensual on behalf of the women," lawyer Stephen Johnson said.
Deegan maintained control of the women by threatening them with weapons, and setting traps in his house where he monitored their movements with video cameras, Butscher said.
When Deegan let the women out to perform sex services, he kept track of them through GPS devices on their phones and then took their money, Butscher said. The women were recruited from an online advertising site, and were drug addicts who Deegan supplied with cocaine and crack cocaine, Butscher said.
Butscher said the sheriff’s office in the year before the arrest responded to or logged calls from the house 11 times, and received additional calls from neighbors, including one about girls in a fistfight.
Deegan was charged in December with sexual battery after one of the women complained he videotaped himself having sex with her while she slept and posted it online, according to the sworn arrest complaint. In April, he was arrested on a drug charge, according to the complaint.
(Editing by David Adams and Will Dunham)