October 9, 2013 Updated: October 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm
A 21-year-old man who pleaded guilty to pimping out a 16-year-old Colorado Springs girl whose services he advertised on the Internet is headed for prison.
Trevor Van Baker, 21, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in July to pimping of a child. Part of that sentence stems from a bail violation related to reports he disobeyed an protective order barring further contact with the victim, now 18.
Baker must also serve five years on parole upon his release, court records show. The penalties were handed down by El Paso County District Judge Barney Iuppa.
According to an arrest affidavit in the case, Baker met the victim through a friend and told Colorado Springs police the pair hatched a sex-for-money scheme together while talking about their shared money problems.
After advertising her services on backpage.com, an online classifieds site, Baker admitted to driving the girl to motels in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs for sex - claiming that the pair split $350 in proceeds from three encounters.
According to the court documents, Baker rented the rooms and waited in a car outside in case the girl needed "protection."
Baker claimed he believed the girl was 18, although he acknowledged that he frequently picked her up at a Colorado Springs alternative high school, court records show. He told police the classifieds ad he placed was for a "Hot 19-year-old Blondie."
The guilty plea capped a turbulent case in which the girl's mother reported that Baker continued to have contact with the girl after his arrest. The extent of their interactions, however, was unclear, and the girl's relatives couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
Baker's sentencing comes as advocacy groups across Colorado are working to strengthen laws against human trafficking like those involving young girls coerced into prostitution.
Contrary to popular perceptions of human trafficking, the practice also ensnares vulnerable women and girls in the U.S., who are made to feel they have no choice and no way out, said Amanda Finger, the executive director of the Denver-based Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking.
According to Finger, the people who promote such crimes sometimes pose as "boyfriends" and manipulate their younger partners into participating.
Although Baker denied he was the girl's boyfriend, he called her his "best friend" and acknowledged the two had a sexual relationship.