An aide to Rep. Clay Higgins was arrested this weekend in connection to a bust at massage parlors and residences in Louisiana that might have involved human trafficking, according to local media reports.
Police in Lafayette Parish arrested Jerod C. Prunty Saturday and charged him with two counts of pandering, The Advocate reported. His arrest is related to those of eight other people in Lafayette Parish last week, officials said.
Prunty serves as a field representative at Higgins’ district office, according to a directory maintained by the House of Representatives. He earned about $47,000 in that role last year.
Under state law, a pandering charge could describe persuading the entrance of someone into the practice of prostitution either by force and threats, or by promises or any other scheme, according to The Daily Advertiser.
A pandering charge could also describe “maintaining a place where prostitution is habitually practiced, detaining a person in a place of prostitution by force, receiving or accepting anything which is known to be from earnings by a person engaged in prostitution or transporting any person from one place to another for the purpose of promoting prostitution,” the paper reported.
Prunty posted a $12,500 bond.
Higgins’ office has placed him on administrative leave, pending investigation and adjudication.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of allegations against Jerod. His arrest is deeply troubling. Jerod has been placed on administrative leave, pending investigation and adjudication,” the congressman’s office said in a statement.
“Should our office be approached during the investigation, we will cooperate fully. We are a Constitutionalist office, thus we have full faith in our judicial process.
“The Congressman has complete confidence in the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office. Investigations like this are complex, and although we are shocked by this, we have faith in our judicial system and the authorities involved,” the statement continued.
“Our office will move forward without interruption. Our dedication to service is stronger than any challenge.”
Police records show Prunty appears to share an address with a 36-year-old woman charged with pandering earlier this month, The Advocate reported.
Prunty is a former St. Martin Parish deputy, according to The Advocate. Higgins was a captain in the St. Landry Parish sheriff’s department before running for Congress.