| Crime |

Children's Shelter Staffer Accused of Driving Two Runaways to Miami to Become Prostitutes

Ricky Atkins, an employee at Florida Keys Children's Shelter in Tavernier, is behind bars after allegedly driving two teenage runaways to Miami where they were forced to work as prostitutes.

On September 1, one of the girls called police to report what happened and the investigation soon turned to Atkins.

The girls, who are 16 and 15 years old, said they decided to run away from the shelter and hitched a ride with Atkins to Cutler Ridge on August 15th. There they were dropped off at a motel and engaged in prostitution. One of the girls says she also saw other crimes being committed.

"Investigations into what the girls became involved in after Ricky Atkins took them to the motel are ongoing," Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, told Keys Net.

It's unclear exactly what job Atkins has at the shelter. Though he has previous convictions in Miami for trespassing and disorderly conduct.

The girls were eventually found on August 24th over in Sarasota, and were returned to the shelter.

"While we do not yet have all the details, given the nature of our work at the shelter, we of course take this matter very seriously," said a representative for a law firm which represents the shelter. "We are working with the Sheriff's Office and closely following its investigation. We are also conducting an internal investigation into this matter."

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