A 32-year-old Indio man accused of putting girls to work in the sex trade throughout the Coachella Valley pleaded not guilty today to multiple felony charges.
Dewayne Deanthony Williams was arrested last week following an investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
Williams is charged with three counts of inducing minors to work in sex-for-hire operations and one count each of human trafficking, lewd acts on a child, procuring a person for the purpose of prostitution and sexual battery.
He was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Dale Wells, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 9 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and ordered that the defendant be held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Williams' bail was previously set at $1 million.
According to sheriff's officials, the defendant allegedly compelled girls to perform sexual services in Indio, Desert Hot Springs and Palm Desert.
The victims' identities were not disclosed in court documents, nor were any details regarding how Williams originally came into contact with them.
An investigation by the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force that began on March 4 culminated in an arrest warrant being served on the defendant at the San Ysidro crossing in San Diego County on April 21.
Williams has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.