Local attorney, three others facing federal sex trafficking charges
Charges include multiple interstate felonies for Donaldson, co-conspirators
By JOHN RECH
A grand jury in Little Rock handed down federal indictments on four accused sex trafficking co-conspirators in a West Memphis rape case. West Memphis Police will lift it’s rape and sex trafficking charges on Marion based attorney Bryan Donaldson, Randle Blair, Ricky Gaines and Victoria McClure and yield to federal charges being imposed on the four.
Donaldson, of Proctor, was arrested and held for federal authorities on Friday during a traffic stop by a Crittenden County Sheriff officer. Mc-Clure, of West Memphis, and Blair, of Earle, were booked and held on Monday. The trio sat in a COVID pod at the Crittenden County Jail as part of precautionary pandemic protocol before they can be transferred to face arraignment in front of a federal magistrate in Little Rock. Ricky Gaines is destined to the same court after receiving his charges sitting in an Arkansas State prison cell on other charges.
On January 19 this year concerned callers contacted the West Memphis Police Department about a distraught 17-year-old with no identification asking for help at the Walmart store according to State Prosecuting Attorney Keith L. Chrestman in a press release on Monday.
The girl told police she had been taken from Phoenix
See CHARGES, page A2
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to work as a prostitute and had been sexually assaulted. Chrestman also said text messages subpoenaed from the accused traffickers revealed plans to send another woman to West Memphis.
To that end said Crittenden County Prosecutor Mike Snell, “We may have saved someone’s life.”
Snell confirmed state charges would be dismissed once federal charges were imposed. Two of the men were charged with three counts of Rape, the third with multiple Rape counts, Kidnapping and Sex Trafficking, and McClure received charges of Kidnapping and Sex Trafficking.
Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen also said federal charges stemmed from the January arrests in the West Memphis case. He said via text message that the accused face identical charges of Rape on the federal level and include sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
The federal indictments were sealed and neither prosecutors nor law enforcement was allowed to comment on any parts of the case until arrests under the indictment had been made. Therefore, it is not known if more arrests in the case pended.
The federal charges put more at stake for the accused sex traffickers. The federal prison system held no provision for early release. According to Pew Research findings, 90 percent of federal defendants plead guilty in 2018, eight percent of the cases were dismissed and of the two percent that went to trial. Federal prosecutors prevailed 95 percent of the time.