By Claire Withycombe

The Bulletin

A man has been charged with promoting prostitution and human trafficking in Deschutes County, electronic court records show.

It’s a crime that Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel calls “extremely uncommon” for his office to file. He noted it was the first such case since Hummel took office in January 2015.

David Romeil Cobbs, 35, was booked into the Deschutes County jail April 8, according to the jail. He’s been charged with two counts of human trafficking and one count of promoting prostitution, all felonies, and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Hummel said Monday he could not release further details about the case, filed Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court. The alleged victim is an 18-year-old Bend resident, the district attorney said.

The crimes reportedly occurred between Feb. 28 and March 2, according to the district attorney’s preliminary charging document, called an information. The investigation into the alleged trafficking is still ongoing and it’s not yet known whether there were additional victims.

Although cases of this type are rare in Deschutes County, two local groups have been trying to bring attention to a phenomenon they say is happening locally.

The Guardian Group and Central Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans are separate organizations that promote training and awareness of the forced labor and trafficking of people. For example, the Guardian Group launched an online course earlier this year to train local hoteliers to recognize suspected human trafficking.

A local team of law enforcement, nonprofit and mental health providers has assembled to develop a specific response to criminal cases when a person may have been trafficked.

The Deschutes County CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Response Team has developed a procedure that flags potential child sex-trafficking cases. The team includes trained personnel in law enforcement and forensic interviewers at the KIDS Center, a child abuse intervention center in Bend.

Cobbs’ next court appearance is scheduled for Monday. Although he has been assigned a court-appointed attorney from DeKalb & Associates, no individual attorney has been assigned to the case yet, according to the firm.

­— Reporter: 541-383-0376,

cwithycombe@bendbulletin.com

13318868