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Jacksonville couple pleads guilty in child sex trafficking investigation

Samuel Templeman, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiring to sex traffic a child. His wife, Deborah Templeman, 50, pleaded guilty to possession of child sex abuse images.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above was originally published on March 1, 2021.)

A Jacksonville man and woman have pleaded guilty after an investigation into child sex trafficking.

Samuel Christopher Templeman, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiring to sex traffic a child. His wife, 50-year-old Deborah Lynn Templeman, pleaded guilty to possession of child sex abuse images.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the plea agreements state that Samuel Templeman and the child victim began regularly using heroin and crack cocaine together in 2018. At that time, a pimp began directing the child to engage in sexual acts in exchange for drugs, the release says.

An arrest report obtained by First Coast News in March stated that the victim was a runaway who would post online advertisements for prostitution in order to support the heroin addiction of herself and Samuel Templeman.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Mug shots released of Jacksonville married couple accused in child sex trafficking case

A court terminated the Templemans' custodial rights over the victim and ordered them not to have any contact with the child in July 2019, according to the release. The child was placed in foster care, but ran away. In late August 2019, the Templemans used a $25,000 inheritance Samuel Templeman received to entice the child to return to them, the release says.

By mid-October 2019, the release says, the Templemans had spent the entire inheritance, primarily on drugs for Samuel Templeman and the child victim. After that, the Templemans' only legitimate income was Deborah Templeman's biweekly salary, which they would spend within one to two days of her getting paid, according to the release.

The money from the victim's "dates," a slang term for appointments for sex in exchange for money, would also go toward food, lodging and other living expenses, the arrest report says.

A detective from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office went to Deborah Templeman's place of employment on Dec. 11, 2019 to try to find the child, the release says. While there, the detective overheard a phone conversation where Samuel Templeman told Deborah Templeman he was taking the victim to a "date," according to the release. 

Samuel Templeman said he would then come pick up Deborah Templeman at her workplace, and when he arrived, investigators arrested him and recovered the child victim, the release says.

Investigators searched Deborah Templeman's cellphone and found it contained sexually explicit images of the child, the release says. Templeman admitted that she knew the images were stored on her phone, according to the release. 

JSO and the FBI investigated the case.

Samuel Templeman faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, and Deborah Templeman faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

The case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a national initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, click here.

RELATED: Jacksonville couple charged with conspiracy to sex traffic child