A preliminary hearing has been set for a Santa Clarita Valley man and woman charged with felony human sex trafficking.
The local pair were among three people arrested a year ago.
Michael Shaw, 35, and Ashley Peart, 26, both of Santa Clarita, and Eric Hamwey, 31, of Encino were taken into custody by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Taskforce, according to a news release issued by sheriff’s Deputy Lisa Jansen in May last year.
The three suspects appeared Thursday in San Fernando Superior Court where they were ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on Apr. 19.
During that hearing, prosecutors will present evidence in the case, and the defense can respond, after which the judge will decide if the case should go to trial.
The three suspects were arrested in May 2016 following a search of five locations throughout Southern California, Sheriff’s Department officials announced at the time.
All three suspects entered pleas of not guilty during their arraignments that followed their arrests, said Shiara Davila-Morales of the D.A.’s office a year ago.
Shaw faces three felony counts: two of human trafficking to commit another crime and one of dissuading a witness by force or threat.
Hamwey and Peart were charged with one felony count of human trafficking to commit another crime. Peart was initially arrested Thursday on suspicion of robbery.
Shaw was arrested after deputies responding to a call determined he was trafficking an adult victim for sex and had violently assaulted her, Jansen wrote. Shaw had fled the location before deputies arrived, and the victim attempted to flee as well, according to Jansen’s news release issued last year.
Taskforce detectives learned Hamwey had previously befriended the victim on Instagram and flown her to California from Texas for the purpose of commercial adult sex work, the deputy wrote.
After a short time, Hamwey reportedly “sold” the victim to Shaw. She was allegedly assaulted by both Shaw and Peart and also robbed by Peart.
The victim was seriously injured during the assault.
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