PIKEVILLE, Ky. (KT) — A Pike County man pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Pikeville on Wednesday to charges that he trafficked minors who were used for commercial sex acts.
Ernest B. Ray, aka Junior, 55, of Beech Street, Pikeville, appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges of sex trafficking of minors (five counts) and several counts related to the alleged trafficking of different drugs.
Ray was originally arrested Tuesday by the U.S. Marshal’s service in relation to an indictment against him handed down by a grand jury last month.
The indictment charges Ray with trafficking five different minors for the purpose of sex between 2010 and 2016.
Each charge alleges that Ray “did knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain and maintain” the children knowing that the children were under 18 years old and knowing that the children would be “caused to engage in a commercial sex act.”
In addition to the charges Ray faces of sex trafficking of minors, he also faces six separate charges of drug trafficking.
The indictment charges that at various times between 2015 and 2017, Ray distributed quantities of marijuana, ecstasy, buprenorphine, alprazolam, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
According to the indictment, the most serious of the drug charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but each of the sex trafficking charges carry a potential penalty of life in prison.
Ray waived formal arraignment on the charges and entered the not guilty plea through his defense attorney, Kent Varney, during Wednesday’s hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ed Atkins ordered Ray to continue to be held in the Pike County Detention Center without bond pending the outcome of a detention hearing set for Monday due to the nature of the charges and potential penalties.