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Truck driver accused of child sex trafficking will remain in jail pending trial

Updated: 2013-04-15T22:54:40Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

A federal judge in Kansas City on Monday ordered a St. Joseph truck driver who is accused of child sex trafficking to remain in jail while awaiting trial.

Federal prosecutors announced last week that a grand jury had indicted Tony Eugene Wardlow, 54, for allegedly taking a minor girl to Texas for prostitution between August and late September 2011.

The indictment charged Wardlow with commercial sex trafficking of a child, enticement of a minor and transportation of a minor for prostitution.

A second driver, Thomas Farrell, 48, of DeKalb, Mo., was charged with enticement and transportation for prostitution, but with no allegations of child exploitation.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The girl, now 18, came to law enforcement’s attention in November 2011, when she was arrested during a prostitution investigation by Prairie Village police, said Benjamin Kinsey, an FBI agent who specializes in child exploitation cases.

Wardlow’s lawyer, Laine Cardarella, pressed the agent in Monday’s hearing as to whether he had asked the girl if she ever had shown Wardlow identification indicating that she was in her 20s. Cardarella also asked whether the girl ever had called Wardlow and asked to accompany him on trips to Texas or sent him text messages to complain when he wasn’t paying her enough attention.

Kinsey said he had not discussed any of those questions with the girl, but he said her recollections of the dates of trips to Texas and St. Louis were confirmed with cellphone records.

Kinsey said the girl also complained of Wardlow’s interest in “unnatural, unmoral and weird sex acts” and said he once had dragged her by her hair across a parking lot.

Wardlow could face a mandatory life sentence because of his 1997 convictions in Nodaway County, Mo., for endangering the welfare of a child and sexual misconduct with a 12-year-old boy in 2002.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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