Federal and International, Park Forest

Hammond Man Who Advertised Minors for Sex Sentenced to Life in Prison

Ronnie Cosby, 42 years old, of Hammond
Ronnie Cosby, 42 years old, of Hammond, IN. (Photo: DOJ)

Backpage.com, where Mr. Cosby posted, has since been seized by the Justice Department

Hammond, IN-(ENEWSPF)- Ronnie Cosby, 42 years old, of Hammond, Indiana, did not advertise for sex on Backpage.com, he advertised a minors for sex on Backpage.com. That’s what federal prosecutors argued in court and that’s why Mr. Cosby was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 23, 2018, by District Court Judge Philip Simon following his convictions of one count of sex trafficking a minor, two counts of transporting a minor for prostitution and two counts of producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

U.S. Attorney Kirsch said, “Mr. Cosby engaged in horrific acts of sex trafficking involving minors.  As demonstrated by the conviction and sentence in this case, such acts carry severe consequences for those who commit them.  Sex trafficking and crimes involving minor victims will never be tolerated.  My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to come after individuals who commit these horrible crimes to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

According to publicly available information in the case, between December 2014 and February 2015, Cosby caused two minor females to engage in prostitution at his apartment in Hammond, Indiana, and other nearby locations.  Cosby met one victim, a 14 year-old homeless girl, on Badoo, an online dating website, and within hours began prostituting her out of his apartment in Hammond, Indiana.  Cosby met the second victim, a 15 year-old high school student, through a friend, and within a day offered her sexual services online to men in exchange for money.  Cosby transported this second minor victim from Hammond to a hotel in Lansing, Illinois, where he and another working at his direction kept her under constant surveillance while arranging for men to come to the hotel to have sex with her.  Cosby took sexually explicit images of both minor victims using his mobile phone and uploaded the images to Backpage.com, a website he used to offer them up to strangers interested in paying for sex.  Cosby also texted images of both victims to friends and repeat prostitution customers to drum up additional business.

In a coordinated law enforcement operation last month, the Justice Department seized Backpage.com, the Internet’s leading forum for prostitution ads, including ads depicting the prostitution of children.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Hammond Police Department with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of the Northwest Indiana Human Trafficking Working Group.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Abizer Zanzi and Jill Koster.