ALPHARETTA, Ga. - GBI agents have arrested two men accused of sex trafficking a missing 14-year-old Georgia girl.
Officials say their investigation began on April 16, 2020, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Sparks Police Department to help with a missing person’s case.
Lt. Stuart Lodge with the Kent County Sheriff's Office in Maryland said they were contacted last April by the Sparks Police Department in South Georgia about a missing 14-year-old.
"They were investigating a missing juvenile and in the process of the investigation they had found a box that was given or sent to this girl that had an address that was local up here.," Lt. Lodge said.
During the investigation, authorities went to a home in Chestertown, Maryland where 50-year-old Brady Hart was living.
Lt. Lodge said the 14-year-old was there.
"We actually located her hiding in a crawl space of the house," Lt. Lodge said.
Further investigation connected Hart to an associate, identified as 23-year-old Nicholas Fernandez of Alpharetta.
Agents arrested Fernandez in Athens on Aug. 31, 2021 and charged him with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, child molestation, aggravated child molestation, statutory rape, and kidnapping. University of Georgia Police assisted the GBI in making this arrest, a university spokesperson said.
The university released a statement regarding potential disciplinary action:
In matters alleging sexual misconduct as serious as this one, the university can consider a wide range of options, from interim suspension to expulsion. Federal privacy laws prohibit the university from discussing the specifics of any individual case.
The University of Georgia finds these alleged crimes to be reprehensible and condemns them in the strongest terms.
Hart was also charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor in Athens-Clarke County and Cook County, three counts of enticing a minor, interstate interference with custody, and kidnapping. He was arrested in July in Cook County and out on bond when he was arrested Tuesday.
Currently, the GBI has identified one victim as part of the investigation.
If you have any information about the investigation, please call the GBI’s Regional Office in Douglas, GA at (912) 389-4103 or the Sparks Police Department at (229) 546-8211.
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