Police: 'Likely many more victims' of elderly man accused of sex trafficking minors
ABILENE, Texas —
Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge says he believes there are “likely many more victims” of an elderly Abilene man accused of sex trafficking after he allegedly paid minors for sexual favors.
“I fear there are more victims in this community, and I encourage them to come forward,” Standridge said during a news conference Tuesday, noting police are aware of at least four alleged victims.
Howard Taylor Collier, 70, was re-arrested shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday at his north Abilene home in the 500 block of Jolly Rogers Road.
Tuesday's arrest of Collier was for "trafficking of persons by engaging in sexual assault of a child, indecency of a child, sexual performance of a child, prostitution and compelling prostitution."
Standridge said Collier first paid the juvenile victims to perform yard work. He did not know how it went from there to sex.
Collier was out on bond following his Dec. 7 arrest for sexual assault of a child and for inducing or authorizing the sexual performance of a child.
Standridge said police are early in the investigation, noting however that they have already spent “literally hundreds of hours” on the investigation.
According to court documents:
A relative of one of the alleged victims told police in November that the 16-year-old had mentioned receiving money from Collier. The relative said Collier allowed teens, ranging from 13 to 19 years old, to enter his home in the 500 block of Jolly Rogers Road in north Abilene and “get money … for performing sexual acts on each other or him.”
She said she decided to report Collier after she met him and “he creeped her out.”
She said she "heard of juveniles purchasing new and high-dollar vehicles with money” received from Collier. The 16-year-old victim, she said, had been seen with “wads of cash."
At first, the 16-year-old told her she was getting paid to do work around Collier's house. Later, when pressed, the relative said the 16-year-old told her that she and an 18-year-old friend had sex while Collier watched. He also performed a sex act on her and paid them $800, her relative said.
In addition, the 16-year-old told the relative that one of her friends attempted to use their phones to try and blackmail Collier “by texting him on his phone and told him that if he didn’t pay them money, they would tell the cops how he raped them.”
When speaking with an investigator, the 16-year-old admitted that she did have oral sex with her 18-year-old friend while Collier watched and that he paid her money for “the act.”
When interviewed, Collier described a “one-time act” of the two performing oral sex on each other as he watched and that he did perform oral sex on the 16-year-old girl. He said he paid them $1,000.