Columbia woman pleads not guilty to sex trafficking her daughter
COLUMBIA - A Columbia woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to sex trafficking her daughter, who had mental disabilities.
Renee Collins and her boyfriend are accused of trafficking Collins' daughter from a room at The Welcome Inn in Columbia. Police said they were exchanging her for money and drugs.
Collins' boyfriend, William Thomas Jr., is charged with first-degree rape or attempted rape. He pleaded not guilty in an earlier court appearance.
The investigation began last year after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children got a tip about possible trafficking. That tip said the girl was "being left in hotel rooms with strange men."
According to court documents, a witness at the hotel told police the child - who has cerebral palsy, autism, and deafness - had been left with strangers for long periods of time. The witness said the teenager also has a "diminished mental capacity" of a two or three year old. They also told police they believed the teenager had been drugged once by Collins and Thomas.
Police said they learned about one instance, in which two men reportedly offered Collins cocaine in exchange for sex with the girl.
The girl was taken into protective custody.