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Accused human trafficker arrested in Petaluma

A 58-year-old San Francisco man is scheduled to stand trial March 1 in Sonoma County Court for allegedly pimping his 15-year-old foster granddaughter at a hotel in northern Petaluma in December.

Petaluma police arrested Kenneth D. Scarbrough in an early morning prostitution sting on Dec. 14 in Petaluma, after he drove his teenage foster granddaughter — who is from Oakland — to a North Petaluma hotel.

This is not the first human trafficking case in Petaluma. In 2009, two Vallejo men were arrested for prostituting a 14-year-old girl at a Petaluma motel. Lyons said that police are increasing efforts to arrest human traffickers who arrange these illegal liaisons in Petaluma.

Scarbrough gained access to the girl because his own adult child was fostering her. On the day Scarbrough was arrested, he had scheduled the teenager to meet an undercover Petaluma police officer who was pretending to attempt to solicit sex from the minor.

After officers contacted the girl — who police originally thought was 17 years old, but later discovered was 15 — they found Scarbrough parked in a vehicle nearby with a passenger named Sherman Richards, 55, of San Lorenzo.

After conducting a search, officers found that Scarbrough had cocaine in his possession, while Richards had methamphetamine and heroine, along with a no-bail warrant out for his arrest.

"This case is particularly disturbing because it involves a teenager being prostituted out by someone who is supposed to look out for her," said Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons.

Petaluma police took both men and the juvenile into custody. The two men were booked into Sonoma County Jail, while the teenage girl was transported to Valley of the Moon Children's Home in Santa Rosa.

Lyons said she later escaped and was picked up by San Francisco police officers. She is currently in Child Protective Services' custody at a youth center in San Francisco.

Terry Menshek, of the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office, said that both men were charged with multiple felony counts of illegally transporting a minor, prostitution, and other child-related crimes, along with multiple drug charges. Richards appeared in court on Jan. 23 and pleaded no contest to four felony charges. He received 36 months of probation and counseling, but no jail time.


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