Friday, June 22, 2018
Public safety

Two more Palm Harbor adults charged in teenage prostitution case

PALM HARBOR — Two more people are in police custody for helping a Palm Harbor man advertise teenage prostitutes via the Internet, investigators say.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies on Thursday night arrested Mikki Lightsey, 49, and Michael Bowers, 19, on charges of procuring a minor for prostitution.

Authorities say the pair helped James Perdue, 61, offer two teen runaways for sex. Perdue was arrested last month on allegations that he used a controversial classified advertising website, backpage.com, for that purpose.

The site, similar to craigslist in format, features an adult ads section, which has been criticized by state attorneys general, including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. They say it provides pimps an avenue to prostitute minors.

The youngsters reportedly engaged in prostitution at least 10 times after Perdue, 61, showed them how to advertise services on the site, investigators said.

Bowers, detectives say, took photos of the girls, which were used in online escort ads. He also acted as security during their appointments with clients.

Lightsey, who also uses the last name Pitts, taught the girls how to best word the ads and used her credit card to pay for the ads, authorities said. She also loaned the girls makeup and clothes for appointments and suggested hotels and how much they should charge for services, deputies said.

Lightsey also offered escort services through the site herself, authorities said.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said it's unclear how the three suspects met.

Bail for Lightsey, of 854 Illinois Ave. in Palm Harbor, was listed as $20,000 on Friday.

The new felony charge adds $10,000 to the bail amount for Bowers, who was already being held at the Pinellas County Jail on unrelated burglary charges.

Perdue, of 665 Ninth St. in Palm Harbor, is being held in lieu of $40,150 bail.

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