Iowa diner owner used restaurant, rental properties to groom girls for sex trafficking

Source: Pottawattamie County Jail; Unsplash

Dec. 22 2021, Published 11:13 a.m. ET

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A 71-year-old diner owner in Iowa used his restraint and rental properties to groom girls for sex trafficking.

Now, he will spend 30 years in prison.

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Last week, Hershel James Ratliff was sentenced to three decades in federal prison for six counts of human trafficking and one count of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, according to prosecutors.

He will also have to serve 10 years of supervised release. A jury convicted him of the charges in July.

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Police in Council Bluffs, Iowa, started to investigate Ratliff in August 2019 after it was reported a 14-year-old was involved with inappropriate sexual conversations with Ratliff, according to prosecutors.

sexual predator

Investigators found numerous other girls who were victims while they were in high school.

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Ratliff gave the victims drugs, alcohol and a place to party, according to prosecutors. He groomed the teens and convinced them to have sex with his friends for money, drugs or alcohol.

Ratliff also used his business, Jimmy’s All-American Diner, and his rental properties to groom and recruit victims, prosecutors noted. His illegal activities started in 2012.


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