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Milwaukee woman pleads guilty, sentenced for sex trafficking

A woman who suffered years of abuse at the hands of her pimp was sentenced this week on sex trafficking charges, the result of a plea agreement that came after 10 months of refusing to appear before a federal grand jury. The case serves as a grim reminder that in many sex crimes, the defendants are victims themselves.

The 31-year-old woman was charged with conspiracy to sex trafficking by use of force. Although a conviction could have resulted in several years of prison time, the woman's eventual cooperation with Milwaukee police and agents from the FBI and IRS resulted in a sentence of the time she already served, two years of probation and 20 hours of community service. She could also be required to register as a sex offender, but is fighting that requirement. A sex offender status could affect her future employment as well as her ability to attend church.

The woman's attorney pointed out that her client's initial refusal to cooperate with authorities was not her own choice, but her pimp's. For years the 45-year-old man inflicted physical abuse on the defendant and other prostitutes in the ring he operated. As a result of her debriefing authorities, the pimp was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

According to her plea agreement, the two met in 1999 during the filming of a documentary about pimps and prostitutes. Since that time she has worked as a prostitute for the man and obtained background information on the other women and girls who worked for him, "programming" them on the pimp's rules. The plea agreement also outlines the beating and torturing the prostitutes endured when they didn't make enough money.

In addition to her sentence, the woman risks losing the three children she has with the pimp. While it may seem to many of us that she willfully supported and tried to protect the father of her children, the fact is that most prostitutes live and work in fear of their pimps and feel they have little choice in their actions. It's often not until they're assured protection by authorities that they're willing and able to cooperate in efforts to send their pimps to prison.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Prostitute sentenced in sex-trafficking case," John Diedrich, July 17, 2012

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