PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia authorities are crediting a group of sex trafficking victims with helping to take down their captor. They say they hope it’s a message to others who may be in a similar situation, that law enforcement will help if you ask.
Prosecutors say Richard Collins was keeping five women, ages 20 to 28 years old, captive inside his Kensington home, forcing them into prostitution, using their bodies to make money, and controlling them through drugs and violence.
“Food was also withheld from our victims,” said Special Victims Unit Detective Kathryn Gordon, with the Philadelphia Police Department, one of the lead investigators on the case.
“If he chose to sexually assault them and they were not willing participants, we had severe assaults that occurred as well.”
Last summer, one of the women escaped.
“She used physical force and threw her body against the back door until she was able to escape and then climb over the fence that included the barbed wire,” Gordon said.
She led police to the rest of the women. Unfortunately, police said, that woman was later killed in an unrelated domestic violence murder.
Collins, 50, was arrested, and last week was convicted of trafficking, involuntary servitude, rape and strangulation.
He had a previous criminal record, authorities say, dating back to 1997, with charges and convictions ranging from drug possession to indecent assault.
He is set to be sentenced on Oct. 18 and could spend the rest of his life in prison.