Billionaire Republican Donor John Childs, A Major Trump Backer, Charged In Florida Prostitution Sting

The storefront of a spa in Florida accused of being a prostitution front.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

John Childs, a billionaire equity firm owner and major backer of Republicans and President Donald Trump, is among those facing charges in a massive prostitution and human trafficking sting operation in Florida.

Police in Florida this week announced a string of arrests in a ring that stretched across an area near Palm Beach, with the arrests including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. On Friday, the Vero Beach Police Department announced that billionaire John Childs is among those accused of soliciting prostitution at one of the spas that had been raided, TCPalm.com reported.

Childs had not yet been arrested on Friday, but police issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of solicitation of prostitution. Childs owns J.W. Childs Associates, an equity firm based out of Massachusetts. As TCPalm.com reported, Childs has been a major donor to Republicans and Republican political action committees, including the conservative Club for Growth, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In the last cycle, Childs spent $4.3 million in donations to Republican groups. His largest donation was $250,000 for America First Action, a super-PAC that supports President Donald Trump.

John Childs has denied the charges against him, telling Bloomberg that the accusation he solicited a prostitute was “totally false.” Kraft has also denied the charges against him, and in a statement to reporters on Friday Trump made reference to Kraft’s arrest, noting that the Patriots owner and his longtime friend has claimed innocence.

Police in Florida described the human trafficking operation as massive, operating out of five spas in Martin County and Jupiter, with women from Asian countries being forced to work long hours every day with little access to the outside world. Officials said they seized between $180,000 and $200,000 in cash through the raids this week, and noted that new details are still being uncovered.

“We are building the plane as we’re flying it, we’re learning, (Homeland Security Investigations) is learning, we’re uncovering a lot of the way that these organizations work,” Martin County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Dougherty said Friday (via TCPalm.com). “We’re seeing the way that the organizations are functioning as far as the money and the spas and the girls, the transactions.”

Officials said that massage services at the spas were listed for between $50 and $100, but noted that customers paid between $300 and $400 for sex with the women forced to work there. John Childs has an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion.