16-Year-Old Runaway Rescued From Human Trafficking in Howard Co.

A 16-year-old Maryland runaway who had been forced into prostitution has been rescued by police, who have charged two people with human trafficking in the case.

Howard County police said the girl, who had run away from home, had been forced into prostitution by Andre Lamar Russell, 28, of Dulwick Court in Laurel, Maryland.

Russell had initially offered the girl a place to stay, police said. But he sexually assaulted the girl and forced her to use drugs, police said.

He advertised sex with the girl on the web site Backpage, "which is known to be used for prostitution," a press release from Howard County reads.

The girl was rescued after a tip. Police also charged Heather Lynn Harding, 23, of Woodbine Road in Woodbine, Maryland with human trafficking. Harding was with the victim in a Jessup hotel room on June 1.

Russell is being held at the Howard County Detention Center without bond. Harding was released on $35,000 bond.

Police brought the girl to a child advocacy center to help her find housing and other services. And detectives are still investigating Russell and Harding, to see if they may be connected to additional victims.

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