Former Franklin County Constable Thomas S. Banta was indicted Monday on charges of kidnapping a minor, impersonating a peace officer and promoting prostitution.
Banta is accused of running a prostitution business out of his security company, impersonating a police detective on multiple occasions, and restraining and interrogating a 17-year-old boy, according to an affidavit from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Banta, 67, was a constable from 2011 to 2014, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said Tuesday.
One woman told Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Zachary Becker that she met Banta when she was in eighth grade, according to the affidavit. She said she was a cheerleader and Banta was a football coach when she started working as a prostitute for him, according to the affidavit.
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She said Banta, whom she referred to as “Boss,” had many customers with whom she had to have sex, according to the affidavit. As a condition of working with Banta, the woman said, he would “get free sex with her any time he wanted it,” according to the affidavit.
Another woman said that she worked as a prostitute for Banta and that she had to have sex with him before he would introduce her to other men, according to the affidavit. She said she was in the office of Banta’s Security & Investigations when Banta and co-defendant Hendra “Dre” Chanault Valentine brought in a 17-year-old boy and interrogated him, according to the affidavit.
Banta and Valentine, 49, are accused of restraining the teen in March 2015 with the intent to “terrorize” him, according to court documents.
Banta and Valentine also are accused of impersonating police detectives to search the home of the 17-year-old’s grandmother in March 2015, telling her the search was in relation to an investigation of $50,000 reported stolen from a nearby home, according to the affidavit.
The boy’s grandmother told the sheriff’s office that she thought Banta and Valentine were “the law” and that she did not know police needed a warrant to conduct a search, according to the affidavit.
The grandmother also said Banta took her grandson’s identification card during the search and never returned it, according to the affidavit.
She said that they threatened the boy’s sister and brother unless she agreed to bring him to a local McDonald’s, where they slammed the 17-year-old onto the hood of a car, zip-tied his hands and put him in their vehicle, according to the affidavit.
The teen said he was taken to an building consistent with the description of the one that housed Banta’s Security & Investigations at the time, according to the affidavit. Once inside, the boy said, he was interrogated for about 2 1/2 hours about the money that was reported stolen, according to the affidavit.
After he was released, his brother told Banta and Valentine to stay away from the teen. One of the men then called the 17-year-old’s sister, a college student, and told her that if their brother “comes near us with guns, we’re gonna take ’em out,” according to the affidavit.
Banta is at the Franklin County Regional Jail and Valentine is not in custody. Banta’s bond has been set at $25,000 cash, according to the jail website.
The Franklin County commonwealth’s attorney is asking anyone with information about the case, including “women who were victimized as a part of of prostitution activities” to call his office at 502-564-4741.