Bremerton man charged with hiring underage prostitute

Prosecutors brought charges Monday against a 45-year-old Bremerton man who police say paid for sex with a 16-year-old, though the man said he did not know she was underage at the time.

Travis S. Beach (not to be confused with a Kitsap County firefighter of the same name) was charged with two counts of commercial sexual abuse of a minor, a class B felony punishable by up to ten years in prison, after police say he paid for sex with the victim, described in court documents as a “chronic runaway.”

Twenty-four-year-old Melissa Johnson was also charged after police say Johnson went with the victim to encounters last spring and summer and “was keeping some of the money for herself.”

Last week, Johnson was arrested on sex trafficking charges and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted. Court documents say Johnson provided the victim heroin, and the victim, who had a car, drove Johnson to meet men.

On one occasion, the victim was experiencing heroin withdrawal symptoms, police said, when she drove with Johnson, also allegedly engaged in prostitution, to meet Beach, a client.

The victim “told Johnson she needed to make money,” court filings state, and Johnson invited her into the house.

Beach “noted [the victim] looked young and asked Johnson what her age was,” a Bremerton police officer wrote in a statement of probable cause dated Sept. 21, “Johnson told him she was 18.”

Police said Beach paid for sex with both Johnson and the victim during that encounter, giving at least $100 to Johnson, who gave a portion to the victim.

Police said Beach met the victim at least four to five times over the next month-and-a-half, sometimes accompanied by Johnson. On at least one occasion, the victim’s payment was immediately used to purchase heroin, Ejde wrote in a September 14 statement.

Beach said he recalled Johnson telling him the victim was 18, Ejde wrote, adding “I asked him if he ever asked to see her ID, and he told me he did not.”

One witness said Johnson, the 24-year-old, said she had “intended to start running girls, referring to pimping them,” the report states. The witness “believed Johnson herself had been pimped out by an older female.”

Beach was also charged with possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexual acts after police found possibly incriminating video footage on his phone.

He is being held in Kitsap County jail on $250,000 bail.