Woman pleads guilty to sex trafficking a child

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a crime a lot of people associate with big cities, like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but a federal case is proof that sex trafficking is happening in South Dakota.

On Friday, a Sioux Falls woman pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a child.

Melanie Hollingsworth has signed federal court papers admitting she helped organize sexual encounters between the teenage victim and two men for money.

The documents say crimes happened between January and October of last year. Documents say the crimes stopped when Sioux Falls police got a tip about the case and began investigating.

In the federal case, Hollingsworth faces anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. She could also face a quarter-million dollar fine. She is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges in January 2021.

Hollingsworth is also charged in state court – where she faces more than 20 counts of promoting prostitution, pimping and sexually exploiting a minor.

She isn’t the only one accused in the case. Ronald Johnson, of Spencer, Iowa, also faces federal charges and is scheduled to go on trial in December.

Robert Stefani of Sioux Falls is also charged in the case.

Robert Stefani

He’s accused of rape and sexual contact of a minor in state court. He’s charged with child pornography in federal court. Both cases are making their way through the courts.

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