For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has announced that a Reno man has been found guilty on sex trafficking charges after a weeklong jury trial in District Court that concluded last Thursday evening. The case was the second in-person trial to take place in Washoe County since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place. The prosecution was the result of an investigation initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF), which is comprised of Federal Law Enforcement Agents and a Detective with the Reno Police Department, who worked closely with this Office throughout the prosecution of the case.
Kevin Belcher, age 28, from Reno was found guilty on three counts of Sex Trafficking of a Child Under 16 Years of Age and faces a maximum sentence of multiple life terms in prison. Belcher will be sentenced on November 10, 2020. A co-defendant in the case, Mason Monroe Heath, age 21,from Reno pled guilty in August 2019 to one count of Promoting the Sexual Performance of a Minor Age 14 or Older and one count of Statutory Sexual Seduction by a Person Under 21 – Gross Misdemeanor. Heath has not yet been sentenced and faces a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.
This case began on May 28, 2019 when the FBI’s CETF began an investigation into suspected sex trafficking activities in the Reno area. The investigation implicated Belcher as the primary suspect and developed evidence of the trafficking of multiple minor females. CETF Investigators located explicit advertisements meant to market the victims for prostitution and additional evidence of Belcher having engaged in sex with underage victims. Both Belcher and Heath were arrested and this office filed formal criminal charges against them, with Heath ultimately pleading guilty and Belcher’s case proceeding to trial.
At trial, Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Tyson League provided the jury with stark evidence of the horrific sexual exploitation the young victims endured at the hands of Belcher. DDA League presented testimony from witnesses and investigators that proved the defendant was a violent trafficker who would entice vulnerable young girls into a world of fear and abuse. The victims in the case are credited with having the courage to face their trafficker and provide critical evidence, which led to the conviction.
In commenting on the case, District Attorney Hicks acknowledged the difficulty sex trafficking victims face when testifying against their traffickers, which in our legal system is often unforgiving of the trauma those harmed have endured. DA Hicks stated, “My office tirelessly strives to support victims as we work to meet our burden of proof and hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes and prevent future victimizations.”