An Indianapolis resident arrested last year after an investigation into an alleged underage labor scheme has been indicted on human trafficking charges in Warren County.
Shawn Floyd, 54, was indicted Wednesday on 12 counts of human trafficking (victim less than 18 years of age).
The indictment accuses Floyd of intentionally submitting 12 children ages 12-17 to “forced labor or services” on July 11-12.
Each human trafficking count is a Class B felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, due to each of the alleged victims being younger than 18.
“We look forward to defending ourselves in court and vindicating his name from such serious allegations,” said Brian Lowder, Floyd’s attorney.
Floyd was arrested July 12 by a Bowling Green Police Department officer initially on 12 misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.
“He failed and refused to exercise reasonable diligence to prevent a child from being neglected,” Floyd’s arrest citation said, going on to detail allegations that he made children work about 10 hours outside while the heat index was in triple digits, had 15 people sleeping in one hotel room and allowed children to go up to 10 hours without eating.
A human trafficking investigator from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office was notified of Floyd’s arrest in Bowling Green soon after it happened.
A news release from the state attorney general said Floyd brought the children from Indiana to Kentucky to sell candy for him, forcing the children to sleep in one hotel room with three adults.
An arrest citation described Floyd as the operator of Youth in Action, which online records show is a for-profit Indiana corporation established in 2007, with Floyd as its president.
Lowder said Floyd is a pastor in Indiana and Youth in Action is Floyd’s outreach effort to at-risk children in which the youths travel with Floyd, with consent from their guardians.
Lowder said the candy sales are part of the program, with the children involved earning a portion of the sales.
“There’s nothing that I’ve seen that in any way constitutes forced labor or services,” Lowder said. “He attained the appropriate licenses and permits in Warren County and no questions were asked.”
On the day of Floyd’s arrest, the attorney general’s office was notified of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors.
State investigators also received information linking Floyd to possible human trafficking of juveniles in Warren and four other counties over the past two years and had an open investigation involving Floyd, according to the attorney general’s office.
Floyd was released on a $1,000 cash bond the day after his arrest, and the misdemeanor case remains pending in Warren District Court.
Regina Lunce, an investigator with Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement/Special Investigations, testified to the grand jury this week on the human trafficking allegations.
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.