A Dallas County grand jury indicted a former North Texas teacher and three other individuals on charges related to child sex trafficking.

Gershon Caston, 38, stands accused of sexually assaulting and then trafficking an 11-year-old girl he met at a gas station on July 4, 2023. Prosecutors alleged that prior to this meeting, Lamorris Hudspeth, 47, and Adarius Staples, 33, had both raped and coerced the young victim into prostitution upon meeting her at a Dallas hotel they were staying at in June 2023. Amber Gords, 30, allegedly facilitated the sex trafficking of this child by taking photos of her to post in online prostitution ads.

While both Hudspeth and Staples had prior criminal histories, Caston was a coach and teacher at Red Oak ISD at the time of his arrest in late July 2023.

As covered by The Dallas Express, the board of trustees moved swiftly to terminate him. He had been in the district’s employ since May of that year but had not yet started teaching. However, he previously held jobs at several North Texas school districts, including Dallas ISD back in 2014.

Caston claimed he was innocent in an interview with WFAA from Dallas County jail, stating, “I don’t know any minors.” However, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, the young victim claimed that while she did say she was 21 years old when they first met, she later disclosed that she was only 11, to which he allegedly responded, “I don’t really care.”

He allegedly continued to have sex with her, compelled her to have sex with others for his financial benefit, and gave her drugs and alcohol. An investigation was not launched until the 11-year-old called a relative, who alerted the authorities to the situation.

The North Texas Trafficking Task Force, a joint task force comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement, including the Dallas Police Department, eventually tracked down the victim and rescued her. While the young girl had been missing for weeks, she had been considered a runaway — an automatic designation given by law enforcement for missing minors that has recently been criticized by the mother of another girl who was trafficked after disappearing in Dallas, as recently covered by The Dallas Express.

The sex trafficking of minors was spotlighted during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month this January.

In Dallas, there was a 15.4% year-over-year rise in human trafficking cases in 2023, according to the City of Dallas crime analytics dashboard. Black and Hispanic people have been bearing the brunt of human trafficking in Dallas, particularly women and girls.

DPD has been laboring under a significant staffing shortage, fielding only 3,000 officers even though a City report calls for around 4,000. This year, Dallas city officials have budgeted only $654 million for police operations, far less than other high-crime jurisdictions like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

The effects of the officer shortage are most apparent in Downtown Dallas, which steadily logs higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security guards.