Former Tri-Cities hospital employee planned to pimp out teen girl for ‘donations’

Tri-Cities man admits to sex trafficking teen girl

John R. Abrams Jr. pleads guilty in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick on Wednesday.
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John R. Abrams Jr. pleads guilty in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick on Wednesday.

A Richland father is going to prison for recruiting a teen girl into the commercial sex trade and acting as her pimp.

John R. Abrams Jr. reportedly first met the girl in a Richland park, then sexually assaulted her when they met up again several days later.

He said he needed nude pictures of the teen to advertise and market her and planned to buy her a cellphone to conduct business.

Copies of his text and voice messages, showed Abrams “instructing (the teen girl) how to dress, wanting to teach her bedroom etiquette, arranging a photo shoot for advertisement and making arrangements with a female client to purchase (the girl) for sexual purposes,” documents said.

Abrams, 52, entered an Alford plea this week in Benton County Superior Court, which means he denied committing the crimes but believed a jury would convict him after reviewing the evidence.

Abrams — who also goes by John R. Pine — said he wanted to take advantage of the prosecution’s offer on the charge of commercial sex abuse of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.

When asked by Judge Carrie Runge for his plea to each charge, Abrams replied, “Guilty, your honor.”

The pleas came just one day after the case was filed in Superior Court.

Attempted sex trafficking

Abrams has been under federal indictment since July 2017 for coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of attempted child sex trafficking.

That case is set for trial July 15 in U.S. District Court in Richland, but recent filings say it will be dismissed after he pleads guilty to the similar charges in state court.

Abrams worked as a computer network administrator at Trios Health when he first was arrested in March 2017. He initially was charged with child pornography in Superior Court, but that case was dismissed when he was indicted.

John R. Abrams Jr. entered an Alford plea in Benton County Superior Court on Wednesday to commercial sex abuse of a minor and sexual exploitation a minor. He denied committing the crimes but admitted there was enough evidence for a jury to convict him. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Unlike other operations in which the suspect chats with an undercover cop, the girl in his case was a real teen.

She said Abrams scared her and she sought out Richland Detective Athena Clark for help, court documents said.

Abrams was picked up by police across the street from the girl’s school.

Knew girl was underage

Abrams admitted to police that he knew the girl was underage when he forced her to have sex and requested nude pictures.

In text messages to the girl, he explained he would take a cut of her money, or “donations,” and said they needed to “play” together first so he could test the teen before setting her up with dates, according to court documents.

Detective Athena Clark of the Richland Police department speaks during a press conference Thursday morning about the arrest of John Abrams, 51, also known as John R. Pine of Richland.

Abrams, who said the teen would be his “babygirl,” also used common lingo in the prostitution trade and explained that he had experience pimping out women by helping a few girlfriends over the years, documents said.

Testosterone caused behavior

At a federal hearing one year ago, the defense attorney said they were prepared to argue that Abrams’ testosterone therapy, or supplementation, led to his hypersexual behavior.

If Abrams had been convicted in federal court, he would have received a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The standard range for the sexual exploitation charge in state court is three years and 10 months to five years and one months.

Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Holland has said she will recommend the maximum term.

Sentencing is scheduled May 15.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.