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Charges bound over in sex trafficking case

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Sugar Hill man coerced his underage girlfriend into having sex with four other men by expressing his deep love for her -- and threatening to kill her parents, a detective testified Thursday.

Carlos Ramirez, 33, played puppet-master in a sordid, year-long relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he'd employed to babysit his daughter and later impregnated, said Gwinnett police Detective S.A. Lacosta during a probable cause hearing.

Officials with the Division of Family and Children Services became privy to the situation when the teen recently miscarried and told authorities the father, Ramirez, was 33 years old. The fetus is undergoing DNA testing to determine if it matches saliva samples collected from Ramirez, said Lacosta.

Ramirez romanced the teen on a trip to Mexico and tried to win her affection by buying her a cell phone, the detective said. In Ramirez's home, police found photos of the pair that ranged from flirty to sexual and letters she'd written him while locked up at a juvenile detention facility, Lacosta said.

The victim, now 15, told police Ramirez forced her into sex with four Spanish-speaking men she could not identify. She told police she witnessed Ramirez collect money from one man, but she wasn't sure he profited from the abuse, Lacosta said.

Police believe the incidents occurred last year at Ramirez's Gold Creek Trail home in Buford. Officers twice responded to the home last summer to reports of Ramirez beating the girl, and he was free on bond for aggravated assault upon his Jan. 27 arrest, Lacosta said.

Ramirez's defense attorney, Forrest Johnson, called attention to the fact that no physical evidence currently links his client to the alleged crimes.

Nonetheless, Magistrate Court Judge Mark Layng found probable cause to bind all charges against Ramirez to Superior Court for possible indictment. He faces counts of statutory rape, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude and aggravated child molestation.

The issue of bond wasn't discussed, as only Superior Court judges have authority to decide bond on felony warrants, Layng said.