Best Defender Bytes:

August 5, 2013


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:25 am

SANTA ANA – A human trafficker was convicted today of forcibly sex trafficking a 16-year-old girl after having unlawful sexual intercourse with the victim. Berneal Holman, Jr., 29, Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one felony count each of conspiracy to commit human trafficking of a minor, human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor, and pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring, and a 2004 prior conviction for pandering and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Holman’s maximum sentence would have been 18 years to life in state prison had he been charged under Proposition 35, which went into effect eight days after his arrest. He is expected to be sentenced to five years in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration at his sentencing Aug. 9, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Whitney Latiss Jones, 26, Los Angeles, is charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit human trafficking of a minor, human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor, and pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring and a Strike prior for 2011 residential burglary. She faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison if convicted and is scheduled for jury trial Oct. 22, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center.

Circumstances of the Case

Holman was convicted of being a pimp/modern-day slave owner. Jones is accused of working for him as the highest-ranking of Holman’s prostitutes and recruiting other women to prostitute for Holman.

In the pimp/prostitution subculture, pimps exploit women and/or children for financial gain often assign ranks to the women they exploit. They often establish rigid rules that their victims are expected to follow including requiring victims to address the pimp as “Sir” or “Daddy.” The victims are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

Between August 2012 and October 2012, Jones is accused of meeting 16-year-old Jane Doe and grooming the victim to become a prostitute. On multiple occasions, Jones is accused of physically abusing the victim by slapping Jane Doe across the face. During the grooming process, Jones is accused of taking Jane Doe to the Desert Inn Motel in Los Angeles and introducing the victim to Holman. At the motel, Holman had unlawful sexual intercourse with the victim and afterwards instructed her to call him “Daddy” and told her she now worked for him as a prostitute. Jones is accused of intimidating the victim by telling Jane Doe that Holman had previously beat Jones with a belt.

Over the course of approximately three months between August 2012 and October 2012, Holman drove Jane Doe to Anaheim to perform lewd sexual acts as a prostitute in exchange for money. Jones is accused of renting a room at the Lodge Motel on Beach Boulevard and instructing the victim on how to perform acts of prostitution. Jones is accused of collecting the money from the victim and turning it over to Holman.

On Oct. 30, 2012, just days before Proposition 35 was enacted, the Anaheim Police Department (APD) found the victim at an Anaheim motel and arrested the defendants a day later in Los Angeles.

This case was investigated by APD and Deputy District Attorney Daniel Varon of the HEAT Unit is prosecuting this case.

Proposition 35 and HEAT

On Nov. 7, 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force. Since the co-defendants could not be charged under Prop 35, Holman’s maximum exposure was 11 years in state prison instead of a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.  Jones faces a maximum of 16 years in state prison instead of 30 years to life in state prison for the charges filed against her.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution, to bring justice for victims of human trafficking and hold perpetrators responsible using Prop 35; Education, to provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources from public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity, to inform the public and send a message to human traffickers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.

Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Pimping is described as knowingly deriving financial support in whole or in part from the proceeds of prostitution.  Pandering is the act of persuading or procuring an individual to become a prostitute, or procuring and/or arranging for a person work in a house of prostitution.

Penal Code Section 236.1 defines:

(1) “Coercion” includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or providing and facilitating the possession of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair the person’s judgment.

(2) “Commercial sex act” means sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person.

(3) “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out.

(4) “Duress” includes a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution sufficient to cause a reasonable person to acquiesce in or perform an act which he or she would otherwise not have submitted to or performed; a direct or implied threat to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim; or knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim.

(5) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, duress, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person.

(6) “Great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury.

(7) “Minor” means a person less than 18 years of age.

(8) “Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.

(i) The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the trafficker or agents of the trafficker, and any handicap or disability of the victim, shall be factors to consider in determining the presence of “deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another,” “duress,” and “coercion” as described in this section.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12CF3194 / August 01, 2013

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