The children’s eyes were on Xaver Boston as he strode through the elementary school cafeteria, fresh from his tour in Afghanistan.
Boston, an Army Reserve military police officer, was in a thicket of students who cheered as he embraced his two young daughters after 11 months overseas. Tears streamed down the faces of faculty and family members watching the moment in May 2017, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
The deployment had interrupted Boston’s enterprise in Charlotte, and he returned to work soon after.
That spring, Boston, who goes by the nickname “Romeo,” reopened his prostitution ring and reacquainted himself with the women whom he coerced with violence and drugs, prosecutors said.
Boston, 29, was convicted Thursday by a federal jury of six counts of sex trafficking and one other related count, prosecutors for the western district of North Carolina said, bringing an end to an operation that spanned five years and was disrupted only when he left for Afghanistan.
He could be imprisoned for decades, prosecutors said. Each of the sex-trafficking charges carries a sentence of 15 years to a life term. The sentencing will be at a later date.
“The defendant in this case preyed upon young vulnerable women, exploiting their drug addictions and forcing them to engage in prostitution for his own profit,” acting assistant attorney general John Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
Lia Bantavani, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said it was unclear whether Boston held a legal job beyond his part-time Army Reserve duties.
Prosecutors detailed Boston’s violent and manipulative streak as he promised drugs, cars and money to women after they solicited for him in Charlotte, using the website Backpage.com.
One of Boston’s tactics, prosecutors said, was to use drug addiction as an enforcement tool. He would supply heroin and then withhold it as punishment for perceived infractions, using the physical and mental anguish of withdrawal to bring the women in line, the documents say.
He pistol-whipped one woman and broke her nose, prosecutors said, and threatened others with violence in Facebook messages, which prosecutors obtained.
Other messages corroborate claims of sexual abuse. One image shared with friends over Facebook was of Boston having sex with a woman. One of his friends found it distasteful that she would allow it.
“Letting me? U think I ask for permission I do what I want lol,” Boston wrote, according to court documents.
Boston also used his military service to exert control over prostitutes. He told a woman who escaped that he was too credible to accuse because he worked in military law enforcement, the documents say.
That career included a post in Afghanistan to protect one of the most senior commanders in the war from deadly insider attacks.
Boston was part of a 10-member security detail for Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser, who headed the Combined Security Transition Command — Afghanistan, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. The command was tasked with helping develop Afghan security forces struggling to combat the Taliban and other militant outfits.
In 2014, the deputy chief of the command, Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, was killed in an insider attack.