OAKLAND — On July 11, an Oakland patrol officer responded to a call of three teen girls who appeared to be in distress while a man in a vehicle chased after them, but as the officer arrived in his patrol car, only the girls remained; the suspect and his Lexus were already speeding away.
Over the next month, sex crimes detectives would end up building a case that authorities say exemplifies both the dangers of sex trafficking and of meeting strangers online. The end result came on Aug. 11, when 30-year-old Lennard Davis, a resident of Oakland and Stockton, was arrested on human trafficking, child molestation, assault, and child pornography charges.
Now, authorities believe that the July 11 incident may have staved off the crimes from taking an even darker turn; Davis was allegedly keeping all three girls — aged 13 to 15 — at his Oakland home on Walnut Avenue, and authorities say he planned to take them to Las Vegas on July 13 as part of a scheme to force them into sex work.
During the investigation, police also came to learn that Davis had hired two of the girls as babysitters, picking one up from a children’s shelter after she ran away from home, and meeting the second girl through social media, after she posted advertisements hoping to make some cash over the summer as a babysitter, according to authorities. In the latter case, police allege that Davis offered the girl money and sexually abused her, then forced her into prostitution and threatened to kill her family if she left.
On Aug. 15, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed 14 felony charges against Davis, alleging that he sexually abused and trafficked one of the girls over a two-month period. Prosecutors also charged Davis with possessing videos he recorded of himself sexually abusing the girls, and with striking one of the girls in the head with a printer when she attempted to escape.
The alleged crimes only came to a stop because the girls were able to get out of Davis’ Oakland home on July 11, and a citizen who noticed the ensuing confrontation called 9-1-1, authorities say.
Police say they seized Davis’ phone and found text messages that establish he was trafficking at least one of the girls, in addition to videos depicting the sexual abuse.
The California Highway Patrol arrested Davis in Sausalito on Aug. 11, after Oakland police secured a warrant for his arrest, according to court records.
Davis has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, court records show. His next court hearing on Sept. 19 will give his lawyer an opportunity to argue that he should be released while the charges are pending, or be given an opportunity to post bail.