The 14-year-old runaway was at the Dudley Square MBTA station when she met Tyrone Battle. The older man approached her, prosecutors said, and chatted her up. How old was she? What did she do for fun? Did she want to be friends? Battle then took the girl home, where he allegedly raped her at gunpoint.
Battle, 33, is accused of raping the girl during three years and forcing her to work as a prostitute. He is being charged under the state’s new human trafficking law.
“This case involves a runaway whom we believe was coerced into prostitution at the age of 14,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. “Sadly, it’s not an exception to the rule. It’s an illustration of the rule: the average age of entry into the sex trade is the young teens. This is not a victimless crime.”
Battle has been charged with aggravated rape and trafficking a person for sexual servitude. Both offenses carry a sentence of up to life in prison; the trafficking charge carries a minimum of five years in prison, said the district attorney’s spokesman.
At Battle’s arraignment Wednesday, when a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf, Battle was ordered held on $75,0000 bail.
Authorities said the victim, who was not identified, told a law enforcement official last week about the alleged abuse, and the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit began an investigation.
The girl allegedly spent three years with Battle, during which she was not in contact with her family. She told police that she lived with Battle in his mother’s home and then his grandmother’s home in Mattapan; she knew his grandmother only as “Miss Nelson,” according to court documents.
During those three years, Callahan said, Battle raped her and threatened her with a gun, a knife, or his fists whenever she resisted. He also allegedly forced her to work as a prostitute, arranging encounters on a telephone party line, posting online ads showing the girl in her underwear, and forcing her to walk on Blue Hill Avenue. She was also allegedly forced to have sex for money in his mother’s home, his grandmother’s home, and in hotels in Revere, Saugus, and Malden, according to prosecutors.
Battle has a lengthy criminal record and has served several stints in prison on convictions for receiving stolen property and firearms charges, said Assistant District Attorney Michael Callahan. Battle is currently on probation on a federal gun conviction and has a pending charge in Boston Municipal Court of making threats against the girl he is accused of raping and trafficking.
Battle’s bail in that case was revoked Wednesday, and federal authorities obtained a detainer holding him for violating his probation in the federal gun case, which means that he will be held even if he posts the new bail.
Battle’s attorney disputed the trafficking and rape charges.
“This whole thing is just crazy,” said Battle’s attorney, John Hayes, who said his client never had a relationship with the victim and was being harassed by her. Hayes said the girl is facing a charge of committing a crime against Battle, though court documents were not available Wednesday. Hayes also questioned how the girl could have been held for three years without anyone noticing.
“This allegation is unsupported,” said Hayes, “and when the circumstances are brought out, this is a young lady who is using these accusations because she decided this is the only way to control this defendant.”
Battle, wearing a black sweatshirt, kept his head pressed to the glass in the prisoner dock during the arraignment. As the details of the charges against him were read out, his mother gasped from the audience.
Michelle Battle-Darby, 57, said her son is a good man with three children whom he dotes on, two of them young daughters, who was not capable of the violence of the charges. Court documents spell Battle’s name as Tyrone, but Battle-Darby said the correct spelling is Tyerone.
“Tyerone has a caring heart; he’s a sucker for trying to help somebody out,” Battle-Darby said in an interview before the arraignment. “I think my son is innocent, because I’ve never seen him mistreat a woman.”
Battle-Darby was in court with Battle’s girlfriend, Angel Johnson, 24, and both said they had never met the victim. Battle-Darby denied that the girl ever lived in her home or her mother’s home.
Earlier this month, the Suffolk district attorney’s office won convictions against two men for exploiting women under the state’s human trafficking law, the first convictions under the new legislation.Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.