Harts’ trial for human trafficking is delayed yet again
Couple is charged with selling daughters
by Heather Tomlinson Commonwealth Journal
The trial of a couple with Pulaski County ties facing human trafficking charges involving their young daughters has been delayed yet again.
Kathy Hart, 45, and her husband, Anthony Wayne Hart, 49, are now set to go to trial in October this year — which would make it around four years since the case first began.
The couple are facing human trafficking charges after they allegedly forced their two daughters, who were 13 and 14 years old at the time, to perform sexual favors for men in exchange for money and gifts.
The incidents reportedly took place between Oct. 10, 2009, and Feb. 24, 2011. The Harts were indicted on human trafficking charges in June 2011. They were also indicted in December 2012 with two counts each of first-degree illegal transaction with a minor (illegal sex act involving child under 16) and use of a minor under 16 in a sexual performance.
Kathy and Anthony Hart, who were living in Berea at the time of their arrests, have both pleaded not guilty to those charges.
The initial investigation began in December 2010 when a teacher from the school the two girls attended noticed them standing in front of a local movie theater, dressed in lacy tops, tight jeans, and boots. At least one man was heard asking Anthony Hart “how much he wanted” for both girls, according to reports.
A police investigation and a follow-up investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services allegedly determined the Harts were forcing the girls to allow men to touch them, kiss them, and take pictures of them partially undressed in exchange for money or gifts. Kathy Hart would allegedly approach men in stores in Berea, Richmond, Lancaster, Mount Vernon, and Somerset and ask them if they would like to “spend time with” the girls.
Both girls allegedly stated through police interviews that the Harts “made them go out with guys for money, food and clothing.” Both girls were placed in foster care and underwent counseling. They have remained in foster care since the Harts were arrested.
The Richmond Register, a sister paper to the Commonwealth Journal, reported that in recent interviews with the children, who have been in foster care, the detective who investigated the case allegedly uncovered evidence of sex crimes that occurred when the girls were with the adult men.
That led to the additional charges.
The Richmond Register reports that issues about testimony to possibly be permitted at the Harts’ trial have not yet been settled, leading to the delay.
A trial has been set for Oct. 14, 2013, according to the Richmond Register.
Anthony Hart remains in the Madison County Detention Center, while Kathy Hart has been released on bond.
The case that is now making its way through the Madison County court system isn’t the first in which the Harts have found themselves in trouble with the law over matters concerning their children.
In November 2002, Anthony and Kathy Hart, who were living on Chappell Way in Somerset at the time, were arrested for trying to collect $3,000 for themselves as part of an ongoing adoption involving the Harts’ three-month-old baby girl. According to earlier reports, the adoption itself was being carried out legally, but Kathy Hart contacted the adoptive family in the midst of the process to collect what she felt she was entitled to after carrying the baby for nine months.
While the Harts were incarcerated awaiting trial for that incident, their two older children, ages four and six at the time — the same girls involved in the most recent case — were turned over to the care of a relative.
Anthony Hart received a two-year prison sentence when he pleaded guilty in 2005 to his part in the adoption scheme. Kathy Hart escaped additional jail time because she was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.