Sex Trafficking Minors: Using Minors for Prostitution

By Shanequa Nelson and Christopher Rice

The Innocence Lost Program targets teenage prostitution. So far the program has recovered approximately 433 children and has made 308 convictions.

Several states — Illinois, Tennessee, Vermont and Connecticut — have passed legislation, commonly called Safe Harbor laws, to decriminalize prostitution for minors. New York and Washington State have laws that divert minors arrested for prostitution into services and rehabilitation programs at the discretion of the judge in New York and at the discretion of the prosecutor in Washington.

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According to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, there were 763 arrests of minors in the United States for “prostitution and commercialized vice” crimes in 2011.

Speaking at a recent event was Lexi Smith, a former sex slave. “The chains of modern day slavery are in the mind, not the hands and feet”, she said.

Here’s Recent Arrest of Adults who Used Minors for Prostitution:

WASHINGTON, DC- A Virginia man and woman will be spending 11-years and 14-years in federal prison, respectively, for convictions stemming from criminal charges that they prostituted a teenager within the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, according to a judge’s pronouncement.

Stephanie Olean Chapman, whose last known address was in Alexandria, Va., and Ronnie Pierre Holmes, no known address, were sentenced Friday to federal prison followed by five years of supervised release by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady.

The 30-year-old Holmes pleaded guilty on June 25, 2013, to a criminal charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child, specifically a 15-year-old girl.

According to court documents and evidence presented during Chapman’s trial, between Feb. 27, 2013 and Mar. 12, 2013, Chapman and her boyfriend, Holmes, met a 15-year-old girl and talked her into working as a prostitute for them.

During that time, the trial revealed, Chapman and Holmes took sexually suggestive photographs of the girl and distributed the photographs among potential customers. They also posted the photographs on the Internet website Backpage.com.

The two felons would then drive the young girl to meet with customers and have sex with them at locations in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Chapman and Holmes would then take half of the money paid to the girl after she engaged in sex with customers for money, according to reports.

MINNEAPOLIS — A 40-year-old man was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison following his convictions for running a prostitution operation in the Twin Cities that exploited minors and young women.

This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in cooperation with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and the Bloomington, Minn. Police Department.

Arthur James Chappell, 40, of no known address, was sentenced to 336 months in federal prison, and 20 years of supervised release, on the following convictions:

  • two counts of sex trafficking a minor
  • one count of possessing child pornography
  • one count of conspiracy to possess child pornography
  • one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography
  • two counts of enticing travel for prostitution
  • two counts of transportation with intent to engage in prostitution
  • one count of conspiracy to entice travel for prostitution
  • one count of conspiracy to transport with intent to engage in prostitution.

Chappell, also known as AJ and J, was indicted April 4, 2012 and was convicted on Oct. 24, following a federal jury trial.

“This sentence is the result of the great partnership HSI has with the Bloomington Police Department and the Minnesota BCA,” said Michael Feinberg, special agent in charge of HSI St. Paul. “Sex trafficking is an unmerciful crime, but because human trafficking is so widespread, no one law enforcement entity can adequately address it. Law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota are committed to giving victims the help they need to come forward and help us end this terrible crime.”

The evidence presented at trial proved that from August 2006 through July 2007, Chappell ran a multi-state prostitution ring. In the summer of 2007, he recruited two girls under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts as part of his illegal business. Also, in July 2007, Chappell also enticed or coerced two adult women to travel to other states to engage in prostitution.

In addition, Chappell possessed one or more items containing visual depictions of child pornography. He conspired with others to possess such depictions, and induced or coerced a child to engage in conduct so he could produce child pornography.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

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PELHAM, AL- Josefina Lopez says she knew prostitution was going on around her home on Oliver Street in Pelham.

“They would just knock on the doors of the Hispanic males and you know. One time they brought a girl. I don’t know the girl, maybe 15-years-old and they was trying to do business too. For $300 and I can’t believe that,” said Lopez.

It was a phone call made by a concerned citizen in April that got Pelham Police involved.

“Basically we made contact with five individuals and initial contact by the officer. Some of this information that they had received the officer became suspicious that there might be some illegal activity going on,” said Pelham Police Captain Larry Palmer.

Police say two adults were involved: Chelsea Joiner and Brittany Pruitt. Authorities said two willing juveniles were also involved. Both women have posted bond. That has created a stir of emotions for one woman’s daughter.

She didn’t want to reveal her identity, but said her 15-year-old daughter was victimized by Pruitt.

“My little girl told me that she had been touching her in places she wasn’t supposed to be touched,” said the victim’s mother.

Now, she says her daughter is on two medications and goes to bed in fear Pruitt could come back for her.

“She’s just scared and she wants me to padlock the doors,” said the victim’s mother.

Police don’t see that happening. But they do believe the woman’s daughter isn’t the only victim.

“Oh yeah, I believe that there’s going to be multiple victims,” said Captain Palmer.

Police say the investigation continues.

THE FACTS:

• “Human trafficking”  — sexual, domestic, industrial and agricultural — is a $32 billion per year industry.

• Women and children make up 80 percent of all trafficking victims who are forced into the commercial sex trade.

• A child is trafficked every 30 seconds.

• The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery in the United States is 13 years old.

• Nearly 2 million children are involved in the international commercial sex trade.

• Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world.

• Human trafficking occurs in 161 out of 192 countries.

• Pornography is a $96 billion per year industry.

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The geography:  

Breakdown of the 20.9 million global human trafficking victims:

• 11.7 million in the Asia-Pacific region.

• 3.7 million in Africa.

• 1.8 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

• 1.6 million in Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

• 1.5 million in developed economies, the European Union and the United States.

• 600,000 in the Middle East.

Resources:

• www.rescueandrestore.org  (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

• National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line: 888-373-7888.

Sources: www.nefariousdocumentary.com  from various U.S. and U.N. government sources; International Labour Organization.

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