SAN ANTONIO – As the trial of human trafficking suspect Steven Sumlin, 40, began Tuesday, prosecutors called him a "pimp and an exploiter of people."
In a two-count indictment, Sumlin is accused of continuous trafficking of persons. One alleged victim was a teenage runaway and another was identified only as Jane Doe.
The first alleged victim to testify Tuesday was the woman identified as Jane Doe. She said Sumlin drove a fancy car and made promises of quick cash.
It was an offer the woman reluctantly accepted, she said in court.
“It was a completely terrible time,” she said. “I felt completely abandoned by everyone.”
The offer: prostitution.
The woman, who we are not identifying due to the nature of the case, testified that she met Sumlin at a local motel for what he told her was an interview.
“He told me to take a couple of pictures while he was standing outside the door,” she said. “He made me take a shower and then we did an interview and he had sex with me.”
That was happened in fall 2016, the woman said, explaining that after the interview, Sumlin would advertise her for sex for money on the internet. She said that she would give Sumlin the money and he would share a percentage of it with her.
The following January, the woman told Sumlin she wanted out.
“I told him, like, 'This is it. I can’t do it anymore,'” she said.
She said Sumlin balked at the idea of her quitting and continued to advertise her for sex on the internet. At this point, according to prosecutors, it became a case of continuous trafficking of a person.
“He just flat out told me — he was, like, ‘Look, you do that and I can literally – I can mess up your whole life and you’ll be back to square one,'” she said. “I was scared he was right.”
Though the indictment also identifies a 16-year-girl who was a runaway as another victim, prosecutors would not say whether she will testify against Sumlin.
If he is convicted, Sumlin faces a punishment range of from 25 to 99 years to life in prison.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday before District Judge Dick Alacla in Felony Impact Court.