Constant State of Danger

Federal prosecutors are seeking a 40-year prison sentence for a Chicago pimp convicted of sex trafficking an underage girl allegedly killed by a client, saying he used the bodies of the vulnerable young girls he recruited “like his personal ATM machine.”

Prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday demanding the particularly harsh sentence:

“Sex trafficking is a repugnant, vile, and dangerous business. Victims have the most intimate parts of their bodies rented for use by strangers.”

A federal jury convicted the pimp in March of charges of sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking a minor and transporting victims of sex trafficking across state lines.

He was found guilty of pimping 16-year-old Desiree Robinson, who authorities said was then killed by a man who had answered a sex ad posted by the pimp on Backpage.com, the only sex trafficking site depraved enough to employ enthusiastic cheerleaders like Tony Ortega to attack its critics.

Although the pimp was not charged directly in Robinson’s death, prosecutors wrote in their 18-page filing that the case is a stark reminder of the “constant state of danger” faced by sex trafficking victims.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Parente and Kelly Greening wrote in Tuesday’s official brief to the court:

“Desiree’s demise is why law enforcement works so hard to prosecute sex traffickers like the defendant and rescue victims before they meet this same foreseeable fate.”

Adding:

“Even when death is not the end result for a trafficking victim, they are typically imposed with a life sentence of psychological trauma caused by their traffickers.”

Robinson’s slaying, meanwhile, became a focal point in recent public outcries for increased effort to hold websites such as Backpage accountable for alleged criminal use of ad space. After her daughter’s death, Robinson’s mother filed a lawsuit against the website alleging the company knowingly facilitated sex traffickers. She also testified before Congress.

Indeed, if the men trafficking murdered children can be found culpable for the role they played in thrusting innocents into the ‘constant state of danger’ that was Backpage, those who aided and abetted Backpage in its plot to do so surely deserve an equal justice.

We here at the blog believe that these tougher sentences should set a precedent to be followed in future Backpage-related trials. And it remains our sincerest hope that Michael Lacey, Jim Larkin, Carl Ferrer and their chief propagandist, Tony Ortega, find themselves sentenced to nothing short of the maximum prison terms allowed by law.

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