911 call released in Pender County human trafficking case

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —  A Pender County man accused of holding a 24-year-old woman and her baby hostage and using her as a sex slave, made his first court appearance on Monday. Now we’re learning more details about the case, after a 911 call was released.

The woman, who doesn’t speak any English, is helped through an interpreter to explain just how serious her situation is. She can be heard frantically speaking in Spanish. Her voice sounds fearful.

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“She wants to see if you guys could hurry up before he returns,” the interpreter says.

On August 9th, the 24-year-old victim called 911 to report she was being held captive.

“She is stating that his name is James Peterson, he had brought her from Honduras,” the interpreter says. “He has her locked up, he threatens her and he shows her the gun, and threatens her with the gun and doesn’t allow her to leave.”



While waiting for officers, the woman tells the 911 operator through the interpreter what Peterson has done to her and her nine month old baby during the two months she has been in the United States.

“One time I tried to escape, I was outside and he was telling me to come in and I didn’t want to go inside because I was scared,” the interpreter translates. “And he pulled me by the hair, he told me to put my son on the floor, and he started using the electrical gun on me.”

54-year-old James Bryan Peterson faces charges of human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual servitude, and sexual battery, among other charges. The investigation is ongoing.

WWAY spoke exclusively to neighbors after Peterson was arrested. They were shocked to hear this was happening in their community.

“You just usually here it happening far away or across seas, something like that,” said next-door-neighbor Ashley Gurganus. “But when it happens in your hometown, you just can’t believe it.”

We do not yet know how the woman and her baby got to Pender County from Honduras.

Peterson appeared in court on Monday, and his bond remains at $2 million. His next court date is September 10.