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Accused sex-trafficking trio indicted

Although District Attorney Steve Billy had not responded by Tuesday’s press deadline to several phone calls seeking confirmation, published reports are that a special grand jury was called into session in late August to hear evidence against three Atmore residents charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl.

The grand jury reportedly returned bills of indictment against all three defendants — 66-year-old Mary Lue Daw, 87-year-old Charles Clarence Stacey, and Melissa Dean Stoker, 37.

The three were arrested in July after a joint investigation by Atmore police, the Escambia County Department of Human Resources and the Escambia County Child Advocacy Center.

Investigators believe that Daw, the youngster’s grandmother, accepted money from her boyfriend, Stacey, in exchange for allowing him to have sex with her granddaughter. Stoker, the girl’s mother and Daw’s daughter-in-law, was arrested when evidence showed that she left the teen in the care of Daw after she had become aware of the arrangement.

All three remained behind bars this week, each under a $1 million bond.

Daw is charged with one count each of rape in the first degree and human trafficking; Stacey is charged with one count each of rape in the first degree, human trafficking in the first degree and enticing a child for immoral purposes; Stoker is charged with one count each of human trafficking in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a child and contributing to the delinquency or need of supervision of a child.

Investigative reports reveal that Daw allegedly called Stacey in late June to initiate negotiations under which he would be allowed to have sexual relations with the child. He reportedly came to Daw’s home, paid her and consummated the business deal.

Unconfirmed reports are that Stacey threatened to physically harm the young girl if she did not comply with his wishes and that Daw held the child down while Stacey sexually violated her.

The date of the trio’s arraignments, during which each will be formally advised of the charges against her or him and will also be apprised of her or his legal rights, was not announced.