PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Missouri man was ordered held without bail Friday after being charged with child sex trafficking in the case of a developmentally delayed Massachusetts 17-year-old girl who went missing this week and was later found safe in Rhode Island.
Stephen Ardrey, 30, of Springfield, Mo., made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence on Friday. He was also charged with transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal activity. He did not enter a plea.
Ardrey was handcuffed and said little during the hearing, other than to respond to Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan’s questions about procedural matters.
Prosecutor Adi Goldstein told Sullivan that Ardrey had a criminal history of prior sex offenses, although she did not provide any details. She cited that, along with the seriousness of the offense and the fact that Ardrey has no known ties to Rhode Island, as reason to hold him without bail. Ardrey’s lawyer, Kevin Fitzgerald, did not ask for bail, and Sullivan ordered him held.
The charges carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison.
Fitzgerald did not comment outside court.
Authorities say the girl was seen leaving the Medfield, Mass., library with Ardrey on Monday. On Thursday, she was found around 50 miles south in Coventry, R.I., walking down a street with him. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha on Friday acknowledged the help of the person who saw the two walking together and alerted police.
The Associated Press does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.