Every morning I start my day reading through my various social media accounts, online news, etc. looking for interesting stories to post. Today I came across an article written by Andrew Mark Bennett of the Daily Beast that stopped me in my tracks. It was a very well written article documenting Senior Judge Andre Davis’ ruling in a U.S. Court of Appeals Case for the Fourth Circuit. The ruling in question was whether a Pimp’s conviction for “possession and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence” should be tossed out. The “Crime of Violence” that was in question was sex trafficking. I will cut to the chase and tell you that Judge Davis ruled that sex trafficking is NOT a violent crime, therefore the Pimp’s extra sentence for committing the crime in possession of a firearm was thrown out.
On the positive side, the pimp, German de Jesus Ventura, was convicted of “sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion” along with convictions on 5 related counts, so he will be serving a 30 year prison sentence. The issue at hand however, is that the firearm conviction did not hold up (which would add an additional 5 years to his sentence) and it is the reasoning behind Judge Davis’ ruling that is MOST disturbing. In his ruling, Davis states that basically the court was not persuaded that the “ordinary case of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion involves a substantial risk that the defendant will use physical force as a means to commit the offense.” Even though in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, Congress found that traffickers “often” subject victims to physical violence. According to Bennet’s article, a 2001 Department of Justice study found that physical violence “was an intrinsic part” of sex trafficking. The study went on to say that of women victimized in the U.S. 86% of the Americans and 53% of the non-Americans reported physical abuse by traffickers. 70% of the American victims and 40% of non-American victims went on to say that their traffickers also sexually assaulted them.
I am at a complete loss as to the reasoning behind Judge Davis’ ruling. The evidence of how violent sex trafficking is has been documented again and again. I whole heartedly agree with Bennett’s philosophy that states, “Anyone who participates in sex trafficking should be held personally complicit in the violent trespasses on victims’ bodies” he goes on to say, “Sex traffickers are rapists whether they rape victims themselves or profit from the appropriation of victims’ bodies”.
I am never surprised with court rulings or how outrageous they can be, but this one shook me. As Bennett ended his article, I will as well…”Is sex trafficking a crime of violence? HOW is it anything else?” SMH.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS A VICTIM OF SEX TRAFFICKING GET HELP AT WWW.SAFEHORIZON.ORG