Thursday, February 27, 2014

14-year-old Girls Forced into Prostitution

Atlanta– The last of three men charged with trafficking, prostituting and sexually abusing two teenage girls has been convicted by a Fulton County jury. Jurors returned guilty verdicts Thursday against 34-year-old Derek Spencer on charges of Human Trafficking, Statutory Rape, Aggravated Child Molestation, Pimping, Pandering, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in connection with the case.

The charges against Spencer date back to October 2012. The defendant approached the victims, 14-year-old runaway girls, as they were walking away from a Southwest Atlanta convenience store. Spencer offered the teens a place to stay in his Fletcher Street home. Soon after, Spencer and 33-year-old Kynne Shuler, his previously convicted co-defendant, began supplying the victims with drugs and alcohol and arranging paid ‘dates’ with various men either at the defendant’s house or a local hotel. The victims were forced to turn over their money in exchange for clothes, food and personal hygiene products. When they were not being forced to service ‘clients,’ Spencer also took turns having sex with each girl.

Spencer and co-defendant Shuler were arrested on October 20, 2012 inside an Old National Highway hotel following an anonymous tip that underage females were involved in suspicious activity inside one of the rooms. Police rescued the victims from the hotel bathtub where they were hiding.

Following his conviction, Spencer was sentenced to life without parole by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter who presided over the case. Co-defendant Kynne Shuler, who entered a guilty plea prior to trial, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

A third defendant, Hossein Sharifi, the ‘John’ who paid to have sex with the victims, also pleaded guilty to Human Trafficking charges in connection with the case. His plea is significant because he is believed to be the first ‘John’ convicted of Human Trafficking in the State of Georgia. Sharifi was sentenced to five years in prison and an additional five years on probation.

The case was prosecuted by the Human Trafficking Unit led by ADA Camilla Wright with assistance from DA Investigator Amanda Pritchett. The DA’s Office also worked closely with Special Agent Joe Fonseca, head of the FBI’s MATCH Task Force to identify Defendant Sharifi and bring him to justice.

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