A Columbia man was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison without parole for participating in a prostitution business and sex trafficking a minor.

Kenneth Ronald Jones, 26, pleaded guilty Aug. 6 to one count of sex trafficking a minor. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of transportation for illegal sexual activity by coercion and enticement between May 1 and June 1, 2016, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Three victims told prosecutors that Jones enticed them to move to Columbia, often under the guise of selling narcotics. They also told prosecutors that Jones directed them to charge between $120 and $200 and that he collected and kept a majority of their earnings.

Two other Columbia men, Barry Paul Manthe, 65, and Ronald James Clark, 68, pleaded guilty in September to using the internet to promote their prostitution business, which was based in a Columbia residence, according to previous Missourian reporting. The Missourian reported in May 2017 that Manthe and Clark ran the brothel for years.

Their sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 24, according to a news release from the Missouri Western District Court.

On June 28, 2016, a 17-year-old victim from Wisconsin reported to her social worker that Jones was holding her against her will in the Columbia brothel. She was removed by law enforcement officers, according to the release.

The victim told prosecutors that Manthe paid for online advertisements for prostitutes in the brothel on a website called Backpage. The victim was advertised under a fake name. Jones found pictures of other girls on the internet and gave them to Manthe to post with the ad, according to the release.

Clark collected a door fee from each of the prostitutes, some of which he used to pay the house’s bills, and the rest he split with Manthe. The victim gave what was left of her earned money to Jones, according to the release.

The victim told investigators that she first met Jones and another victim in May 2016 at a party in Milwaukee and agreed to come back to Columbia with him to engage in prostitution. She also told investigators that Jones knew that she was 17 years old and that he told her to tell everyone in the house that she was 18, according to the release.

The victim said Jones made her charge $120 for half an hour or $160 for a full hour. She gave $20 to the owners of the residence and the rest to Jones, according to the release. Another victim said Jones directed her to charge $120 per half-hour and $200 per hour. The victims gave a majority of their earnings to Jones.

The victims also said Jones was physically abusive. One victim said he pointed a 9 mm handgun in her face and pulled the trigger but that the gun did not fire, according to a release.

  • Copy Editor, Spring 2019 Studying sports journalism Reach me at mmrgf3@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5586

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