Thursday, July 28, 2011

Michigan first state human trafficking charge!

Press Release: New Human Trafficking Unit Files State’s First Charges Under New Law

Michigan Department of Attorney General

Office of Communications


Copy of Press Release:

New Human Trafficking Unit Files State’s

First Charges Under New Law

Detroit Man, nicknamed “Gruesome,” Arrested in California; Faces 13 Criminal Charges for Enslavement, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Two Girls

LANSING— Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his new Human Trafficking Unit has filed Michigan’s first criminal charges under its new human trafficking law. Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, 32, of Detroit, is accused of human trafficking and other crimes after the Attorney General’s office alleged he enslaved two young girls, forcing them to engage in prostitution in Detroit. The charges result from an investigation by Michigan State Police and the FBI through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force.

"Modern day slavery happens in Michigan every day and it must be stopped," said Schuette. “I am committed to a new fight against this enslavement of our children. This is a warning for the criminals running these operations: Your time is up.”

“This case is the very first to be prosecuted under the state human trafficking law,” said Jane White, Director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. “We welcome the leadership and commitment of Attorney General Schuette and look forward to his partnership in the fight against human trafficking in Michigan.”

"This arrest is a huge step forward in Michigan's fight to combat human trafficking,” said Bridgette Carr, Director of the University of Michigan Law School Human Trafficking Clinic. “We must send the message in Michigan that all victims of human trafficking will be treated like victims and those who choose to exploit them will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The leadership of Attorney General Bill Schuette is a welcome and necessary addition to the fight to combat human trafficking in Michigan."

Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, also known as “Gruesome” and “Roc,” is accused of enslaving two girls and forcing them to engage in prostitution on the streets of Detroit. The victims include 14-year-old and 15-year-old girls. Schuette alleges one 14-year-old was enslaved by Mitchell after he invited her to attend a party in July 2010. The child was then held captive in a house on Detroit’s east side for approximately two months. A 15-year-old girl was enslaved under similar circumstances from December 2010 to January 2011.

The victims were forced to engage in prostitution, with Mitchell allegedly collecting all of their earnings. When the girls did not earn enough money, it is alleged Mitchell would physically abuse the girls by slapping and punching them. In addition to the physical assaults, Schuette alleges Mitchell sexually assaulted the girls on several occasions. In one sexual assault incident, Mitchell allegedly held a gun to the 14-year-old victim’s head. During another sexual assault of the 15-year-old victim, Mitchell allegedly choked the girl when she resisted his advances.

Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell has been charged by Schuette’s office with the following:

· Two counts of Human Trafficking – Threats of Physical Harm Causing Injury (Involving Criminal Sexual Conduct), a felony punishable by life in prison;

· One count of Criminal Sexual Conduct – First Degree (Personal Injury), a felony punishable by life in prison;

· Two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct – First Degree (Relationship), a felony punishable by life in prison;

· One count of Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Racketeering), a 20-year felony;

· Two counts of Prostitution/Pandering, a 20-year felony;

· Two counts of Prostitution – Accepting Earnings, a 20-year felony;

· One count of Felonious Assault, a four-year felony;

· One count of Felony Firearm – Second Offense, a 5-year felony; and,

· One count of Felon in Possession of Firearm, a five-year felony.

Mitchell was arrested in Mojave, California on July 21, 2011 by local law enforcement. Schuette’s office has begun the process to have Mitchell extradited to Michigan to face the criminal charges announced today.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery and it is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are in bondage through force, fraud or coercion, solely for the purpose of sex or labor exploitation. Children are especially vulnerable. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,515 incidents of human trafficking were recorded nationwide between January 2008 and June 2010. Of those incidents, 1,016 involved the sexual exploitation of a child, 1,218 involved the sexual exploitation of adults, and 350 involved labor trafficking.

The Michigan law banning Human Trafficking (MCL 760.462a, et seq.) went into effect on August 24, 2006. The law was strengthened in 2010, with those changes taking effect on April 1, 2011. Updates to the law included: adding human trafficking to the list of predicate offenses that fall under the state racketeering law, authorizing additional court-ordered restitution for trafficking victims, and stronger penalties.

Schuette’s Human Trafficking Unit was created by reallocating resources in the Attorney General’s Criminal Division to put an increased focus on combating human trafficking in Michigan, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office in January of this year. Schuette expects the unit to work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to uncover and prosecute cases of modern-day slavery involving both children and adults.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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