OAKLAND -- While her 16-year-old friend was being sexually assaulted in another room, a terrified 15-year-old girl used the attacker's computer to contact relatives in Ohio, who called police to rescue them from a 13-time felon trying to to turn them into prostitutes, authorities said.

The suspect, Billy Washington, 57, now faces life in prison under three-strikes statutes after being charged with nine felony counts, including rape of a minor, pimping and pandering.

Washington, who said he worked as a personal trainer at an Oakland fitness center, has denied the allegations and claimed the sex with the girl was consensual, authorities said. He is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail at Santa Rita Jail.

Washington was arrested Nov. 4 at his apartment in the 1700 block of 10th Avenue in East Oakland, where the girls were being held against their will after being threatened at gunpoint, police said.

According to authorities, the girls' frightening ordeal began in the predawn hours Nov. 4 when Washington went to the Central Valley area to pick up the girls, who are from Southern California. They and two other 16-year-old girls, known Oakland prostitutes, had run away from a group home there. Police said the two known prostitutes know Washington and believe they set the other girls up. One has since been arrested, and the other is being sought.

Washington drove the four girls to Oakland, dropped the two prostitutes off and then took the other two to his apartment.

The girls had never been to Oakland before and had no idea where they were, police said.

At the apartment Washington threatened the girls with a gun, telling them they were going work as prostitutes for him, authorities said. He gave them stylish clothing he already had at the apartment and marijuana, authorities said.

Police said Washington took the 16-year-old into a bedroom and began sexually assaulting her while the 15-year-old girl was in another room, where she could hear her friend screaming.

Authorities said the 15-year-old had no access to a phone but was able to get on a computer in the apartment and contact relatives in Ohio. She was able to give them clues from the apartment that the relatives relayed to Oakland police, who were able to determine where the girls were. Officers went there and arrested Washington about 11:30 a.m., Nov. 4 after the assault had ended.

The girl who was sexually assaulted was treated and released at a hospital. Both girls were returned to a group home.

The charges are rape of a minor, forcible sexual penetration of a minor, two counts of human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor under 16, pimping a minor, two counts of pandering by procuring and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court documents.

According to court records, Washington has a criminal record going back to 1975 that ended with an arrest and conviction for possessing drugs in Santa Clara County in September 2000 for which he received a seven year prison sentence. All but one of his prior felony convictions were in Santa Clara County and besides the drug conviction others included assault and theft.