Pender Co. man facing human trafficking charges after holding woman, infant captive, deputies say

Pender Co. man facing human trafficking charges after holding woman, infant captive, deputies say

PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A Willard man is facing human trafficking charges after he allegedly held a woman and her 8-month-old child captive, according to officials with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s office officials said in a Friday morning news release that they received a 911 call from a 24-year-old woman on Friday, Aug. 9 saying that she was being held against her will at a home along N.C. 11 in the Willard community.

Deputies investigated and eventually charged James Bryan Peterson, 54, with two counts of assault on a female, one count of sexual battery, and one count of assault by pointing a gun.

Warrants allege Peterson reportedly kidnapped the victim from her driveway while he was driving a utility vehicle. He’s also accused of using a taser on the victim, threatening her with a handgun and holding her for the purpose of sexual servitude.

Peterson was booked into the Pender County Jail under a $20,000 bond and released after posting bail.

After further investigation and executing a search warrant at the home, Peterson was arrested again and additionally charged with:

  • Human trafficking - adult victim
  • Human trafficking - child victim
  • First-degree kidnapping
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Sexual servitude
  • Felonious restraint
  • Second-degree kidnapping

Peterson was booked in jail under a $2 million bond and will make his first court appearance on the charges on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Officials said this is an ongoing investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 910-259-1212.

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