The Richmond Register

September 4, 2012

Human trafficking trial date pushed back to February

Prosecutor: New evidence has turned up

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — A new trial date has been set in a case of two parents accused of trafficking their teen daughters to adult men for “companionship and affection.”

Kathy Hart, 45, and Anthony Wayne Hart, 48, are scheduled to stand trial at 9 a.m. Feb. 11. The trial is expected to last one week, according to court documents.

The case originally was set for Aug. 20, however new evidence has come to light, court documents revealed.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith said the investigating detective has conducted new interviews and obtained additional information about the alleged crime.

“It may change the nature of the charges,” Smith said.

The Harts were indicted on one charge each of human trafficking, a Class B felony punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

From October 2009 to February 2011, the indictment alleged the Harts arranged “for their 13- and 14-year-old daughters to provide companionship and affection to male individuals in exchange for money and goods.”

One person, Alexander Gomez-Lopez, was identified as having sexual contact with one of the girls. He pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree sexual abuse and received a sentence of one year in prison.

The girls told investigators that they did not have intercourse with any of the men, according to the court documents.

Judge Jean C. Logue ruled in July that Kathy Hart was competent to stand trial based an evaluation and testimony from a state psychologist. However, eight years ago Kathy Hart was found incompetent to stand trial in another case due to her low IQ.

In 2003, Kathy and Anthony Hart were accused of trying to sell their newborn baby for $3,000 to undercover police officers in the Danville Walmart, according to court documents.

The 2003 competency report, which was included in the current case’s court file, stated that Kathy Hart had an IQ of 45 and was “functionally illiterate.” The report stated she would never become competent to stand trial.

Anthony Hart was found competent to stand trial in the Boyle County case, and he pleaded guilty to a charge of prohibited acts and practices in the adoption of children, according to an Associated Press report. He received a two-year sentence.

Assistant Common-wealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith revealed in July that she planned on using information from the Boyle County case in prosecuting the Harts. Anthony Hart’s attorney, Timothy Despotes, filed a motion asking the court to prohibit Smith from bringing up his client’s previous arrest and conviction.

Kathy Hart’s attorney, Stan Manziano, also filed a motion in July notifying the court that his client planned on using mental health evidence in her defense, according to the motion.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.