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North Carolina man accused of holding German woman captive

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - A North Carolina man was charged with human trafficking after he sexually assaulted a Russian-born German citizen he met online, took her money and held her against her will for several days, police said on Tuesday.

Robert E. Whiteside, 45, was arrested on Monday in a Raleigh suburb after the woman's estranged husband contacted police saying she had emailed asking for money and indicated she was unable to leave.

“He kept her with him at all times," Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said of Whiteside. "We believe that he physically assaulted her, sexually assaulted her and never really let her out of his sight."

Hayworth said Whiteside met the 34-year-old woman on a dating website and paid for her to travel to the United States.

He took her money and phone after she arrived on June 4 and held her in involuntary sexual servitude, Hayworth said. A search of the warehouse where Whiteside lived and ran his refurbishing business revealed a hidden bedroom, guns, ammunition and pornography, the chief said.

Authorities charged Whiteside with human trafficking and assault by strangulation and said more charges are expected.

Whiteside called the incident "a misunderstanding" at his first court appearance on Tuesday, according to video on WRAL.com.

"I’m not a troublemaker-type person," he said. "I don't have a record of this type of thing."

A judge ordered Whiteside to be placed on an electronic monitor should he be able to post $90,000 bail.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jim Loney)