Columbia Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking of Minors

COLUMBIA, S.C . –  United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced today that Donnell Salethian Woodard, a/k/a “Tank,” age 33, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced today in federal court to 25 years imprisonment after pleading guilty in September 2019 to conspiracy to sex traffic minors and benefiting from sex trafficking of minors.

Evidence presented to the court showed that on November 21, 2017, undercover officers with the Lexington Police Department encountered a minor advertising sex via a website.  An undercover officer set up a time to meet with the minor at a local motel, wherein officers observed the minor being dropped off by Woodard and India Tykeyah-Najee Cuyler, a/k/a “Lady Tank,” age 26.  Officers placed both Woodard and Cuyler under arrest. The investigation led to another nearby motel where a second minor, who was also involved in the illegal venture, was located.  The investigation revealed Woodard and Cuyler were using a cell phone to post advertisements for commercial sex with the minors on a website and taking a portion of the proceeds.  Woodard and Cuyler were both charged federally.

During the sentencing, United States District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs also ordered Woodard to make restitution to the victims involved. Following service of his term of imprisonment, Woodard will be on supervised release for 15 years and will be required to register as a sex offender.

Co-defendant India Cuyler previously pled guilty in federal court to using a facility of interstate commerce (a cell phone) to entice a minor under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity.  Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 17, 2021.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Lexington Police Department, and the West Columbia Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes.

It was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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