Man in town for Super Bowl pleads guilty to prostitution of children under 16
A Branson, Mo. man who was in town to work the Super Bowl pleaded guilty to offering to hire minors for sex, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.
Justin Beard, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of prostitution of children under 16. He is expected to receive a stay of execution and will not be sent to prison provided he follows all the rules while on probation for three years. He also is expected to receive 120 days in the Hennepin County workhouse.
“Mr. Beard is an example of how this office and police now deal with commercial sex operations,” Freeman said. “Our focus is on the people who are behind the trafficking, and sometimes setting up electronic stings targeting people like Mr. Beard who want to go after our children. We believe this approach is more effective and humane than going after the sex workers, who we consider to be victims.”
Beard was arrested when he responded to a Craigslist ad that had been placed by a sex-trafficking taskforce. According to the criminal complaint, Beard responded to the ad and began texting the number provided, thinking he was talking to the man trafficking a 15-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, but he was actually communicating with undercover agents.
Beard offered two VIP tickets to a Super Bowl event, which he said were worth $100 each, according to the complaint. When he showed up at the Minnetonka apartment where he was directed to go, he was arrested by police.
Beard’s sentencing is scheduled for July 10.