WESTMINSTER, Calif. – A gang member pleaded guilty and was sentenced today for pandering a woman and using his brother to dissuade the victim from testifying. Tyrell Anthony Lancaster, 32, Hemet, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of pandering, one felony count of dissuading a witness from testifying, one felony count of street terrorism, and sentencing enhancements for a prior 2009 strike conviction for conspiracy to commit a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Lancaster was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
Lancaster's brother, Derrick Deshon Graham, 28, Hemet, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of dissuading a witness from testifying and was sentenced to six years in state prison.
Circumstances of the Case
In October 2014, Lancaster, a criminal street gang member, met Jane Doe and pandered the victim by promising her more money and a better life if she performed commercial sex acts. In May 2015, Lancaster induced Jane Doe to drive with him to areas known for prostitution in Orange County, Texas, and Arizona.
Lancaster established rigid rules that the victim was expected to follow including setting daily quotas that Jane Doe was expected to fulfill, and told the victim turn over all of the money that she received from performing commercial sex acts.
The Riverside County Human Trafficking Task Force contacted the Westminster Police Department (WPD) about the crime. WPD investigated this case and located the victim.
On May 21, 2015, Lancaster was charged with the pimping and pandering of Jane Doe. While Lancaster was in custody awaiting trial, he and Graham placed a phone call to Jane Doe and intimidated the victim so that she would not testify in court.
Deputy District Attorney Brad Schoenleben of the HEAT Unit prosecuted this case.
Proposition 35 and HEAT
In November 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.
A component of the OCHTTF is the OCDA's Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which 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 calledPERP: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; andPublicity, 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 # 15WF1072, 15WF1555 / December 11, 2015