READING, Pa. - Human trafficking charges have been filed against a Berks County man.
Nathaniel Pagan, 18, of the 200 block of South 10th Street in Reading, is accused of assaulting and forcing multiple women to have sex against their will for money.
"The defendant is charged with the human trafficking offenses related to three of the victims. He's charged with assault-related offenses to all four of the victims," said Berks County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Kurland.
Spring Township police were first alerted about Pagan in December when a customer who arranged to have sex with one of the victims was allegedly robbed by Pagan, authorities said.
"In speaking with [the customer] a little further, he indicated that girl appeared to be in distress and she was making comments about being beaten and money taken from her," said Detective Stephen Brock, Spring Township Police Department.
Brock then arranged an undercover operation at a hotel in Berks County. Surveillance was set up in a room and in the hotel’s parking lot.
While in the room with the victim, the arrest team moved in, and Brock said the victim thanked him.
"I don't know that I've seen really anybody so happy to be arrested probably ever," Brock recalled. "She was actually relieved and thankful and smiling and saying how she didn't think anybody was ever going to help her and she was hoping that today would be day that would somebody get her out of this life."
Officials said later Pagan went looking for the victim in the hotel room where he was arrested. According to court documents, investigators found the identifications of two of his other victims in his wallet.
At first, most of the victims were in a consensual relationship with Pagan. Then he would use multiple tactics to control them and force them to have sex for money, according to court documents.
Officials said Pagan would supply some of the victims with drugs and take their possessions, including cell phones and identification cards. Some of the victims described having to depend on Pagan for food and clothing. Pagan is also accused of assaulting his victims.
"The methods of assault he would use involved whipping them with electrical cords, causing damages and scars; shooting them with a BB gun; hitting them on the head and things of that nature," Kurland told 69 News.
One of victims described having suffered a broken wrist and nose as a result of beating by Pagan, according to court documents.
One of the victims told police Pagan had a collection of spiders that he would throw on the victims to "keep them in line."
The victims also described trying to flee but being beaten in failed attempts or being afraid of being beaten.
"It was an ongoing enterprise and we, police, certainly discovered it and encountered it when it was in its maturity," Kurland said.
One victim told police she was sold 200 to 300 times in three months, according to court documents. She said she believes Pagan made about $20,000 and kept the money.
Authorities said Pagan’s mother had some knowledge of her son’s activity but did not intervene.
While one of the victims was at Pagan’s home, his mother told the victim to escape before Pagan returned.
According to court documents, Pagan also had several aliases including Ray Padil and Nathaniel Vasquez.
More charges were filed against Pagan on Monday. He now faces more than 30 charges, including multiple human trafficking charges, corrupt organizations, assault and drug related offenses.
Safe Berks, formerly Berks Women in Crisis, reminds victims of sexual assault that healing is possible.
"We know that trauma-informed counseling can be very effective," said Kate Mallow, director of counseling.
The organization offers free counseling and legal services to sexual assault victims.
Two men who were charged last week with attempted homicide in Reading were apprehended in Allentown on Tuesday.Read More »
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