Thursday, August 11, 2011

Detroit man charged in sex slavery case

Steve Pardo/ The Detroit News

Lansing— A 32-year-old Detroiter with the street name of "Gruesome" became the first person charged under the state's new human trafficking law.

Attorney General Bill Schuette on Monday announced that Sedrick Leman-Issac Mitchell is accused of human trafficking and charged with myriad felonies for allegedly forcing two girls to work as prostitutes in Detroit.

"Modern-day slavery happens in Michigan every day, and it must be stopped," Schuette said in a release. "This is a warning for the criminals running these operations: Your time is up."

Schuette said Mitchell enslaved two girls, ages 14 and 15. The 14-year-old was held captive in a house on Detroit's east side for two months after Mitchell invited her to a party in July of last year, Schuette said. Mitchell is alleged to have put them to work as prostitutes, collecting money and punching and slapping them when they didn't earn enough.

The release said in addition to physical assaults, Mitchell repeatedly sexually assaulted the girls and held a gun to the head of the 14-year-old on one occasion. The 15-year-old was choked when she resisted his sexual advances, the release said.

The charges stem from an investigation by Michigan State Police and the FBI through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force. He faces several charges, which could land him in prison for life, including two counts of human trafficking, three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, racketeering, prostitution, felonious assault and felony firearm.

Mitchell was arrested in Mojave, Calif., on Thursday. Schuette's office is working to have him extradited to Michigan to face the charges.

"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's 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."

A Michigan law banning human trafficking was strengthened in 2010 and went into effect in April. The changes include adding trafficking to the list of offenses include under the state's racketeering law. It authorizes additional compensation for trafficking victims and stronger penalties.

From The Detroit News:

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