The then-16-year-old girl told police that in exchange for going on “dates,” she was given food, clothes and a place to live.

She said she didn’t want to perform sex acts for money, an Omaha police detective testified Tuesday, but her mother was in prison and her father has health problems. So she was on her own.

Two people have been arrested and charged with setting up those “dates” and collecting money from the girl.

Sign up for World-Herald news alerts

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

A judge ruled Tuesday that one of those people, Tyler Sudduth, 25, will stand trial on one count of sex trafficking of a minor. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison.

Zarina Patten, 20, the other person charged in the case, also will stand trial on the same charge.

Sudduth and Patten were arrested following an Omaha police operation targeting prostitution.

An affidavit said officers working with a special squad found the girl March 16 after she was dropped off by a ride service near 72nd Street and Mercy Road. An advertisement about the girl had been listed on a website known by police to be used for prostitution.

After telling police her age, the detective said, the girl said she would give the money she was paid to perform sex acts to Patten and Sudduth.

The detective said the girl gave police permission to search her phone, which led to the identification of Sudduth and the discovery of calls and texts from Patten and Sudduth.

During the detective’s testimony Tuesday, Sudduth kept turning around to shake his head and mouth things to people in the gallery. The judge warned Sudduth not to interrupt the proceedings.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.