SPRINGFIELD – The Hampden County district attorney’s office has dropped a sex trafficking case against a city man charged two years ago.
Dennis Wilhite, 55, was arrested and charged along with two other men amid a multi-agency sex trafficking investigation after dropping a friend off at a hotel in 2019. But while the case was pending, prosecutors decided to drop the case, according to Wilhite’s attorney.
The case was dismissed based on a lack of sufficient evidence on June 14 as defense lawyer Alfred Chamberland prepared to argue motions to dismiss and suppress data collected from Wilhite’s phone and that of the woman he was accused of enabling.
“He gave a friend a ride from his neighborhood in Springfield to a hotel downtown. She told him she was meeting her sister there,” Chamberland said. “And she told investigators all along her pimp was another guy. Who has two pimps?”
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies had combined forces for a sex-for-fee sting by placing an ad on a website. In Wilhite’s case, investigators tailed his car up State Street and pulled him over for having an expired inspection sticker, court records showed. He denied being involved with whatever the woman was doing at the hotel, Chamberland said, but was indicted by a Hampden County grand jury.
He added that he believes the state law around sex trafficking is overly vague.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office defended the prosecution, and said the case against Wilhite fell apart after a witness decided to withdraw her cooperation.
“This investigation also included several other (alleged) purveyors facing similar charges. His charges were dropped recently but not before being indicted by a grand jury. During trial preparation, evidentiary hurdles and the withdrawal of an important witness’s cooperation changed the state of the evidence, requiring a halt to the prosecution,” spokesman James Leydon said in response to a request for comment.