Two charged with human trafficking appear in court
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Two people charged with human trafficking had the first court appearance Thursday.
Mark Scoville and Catherine Ottinger were arrested Wednesday between Fairchild and Stanley by Eau Claire County Sheriff’s deputies with the help of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office. Their arrests culminate a three-year investigation.
Prosecutors said Ottinger tried to sell a child for sexual activity. She is charged with two felonies, trafficking a child and causing a child under 13 to view/listen to sexual activity.
Scoville faces 32 charges including second degree sexual assault and human trafficking.
A $5,000 preliminary cash bond was given to Ottinger Thursday. Scoville received a $25,000 preliminary cash bond Thursday.
They’re next due in court April 13.
The criminal complaint says Scoville and Ottinger met through her then-boyfriend Charles Page, who died in 2019. Scoville and Page were friends.
The complaint says Page and Scoville assaulted several women several women and girls.
“The allegation in the second degree sexual assault section that is denoted in the criminal complaint is specific to having sexual contact or sexual intercourse with an unconscious person and the defendant knows that they’re unconscious,” said Det. Don Henning with Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office.
The criminal complaint also said Page and Scoville trafficked women and girls by getting them to perform commercial sex acts by giving them drugs in return.
“The qualifier to determine a commercial sex act is that the defendant was getting something in return and/or the victim was getting something of value,” Henning said. “And in this case, by enlarge, the item of value was drugs.”
He said the investigation initially started in 2018 as a drug trafficking case around Fairchild.
“Through means of gaining information and intelligence on several targets in the Fairchild area, they learned that there was a potential human trafficking or sex trafficking component to the same residences that were involved in the alleged drug trafficking.” Henning said.
He said the drug component made this case unique.
“This is by far the largest human trafficking and sexual assault type case that we’ve had related to a drug trafficking investigation in our county. We don’t see those two things cross paths very frequently in our community,” Henning said.
He said multiple law enforcement agencies worked on the case.
Scoville and Ottinger were arrested in 2019 and eventually released. Henning said prosecutors waited until recently to move forward as they built a case. Arrest warrants were initially issued for Scoville and Ottinger March 24, 2021.
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