Hearings began yesterday in Detroit for the first case to come under the state’s newly strengthened sex trafficking laws. Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, 32, known on the streets as “Gruesome” and “Roc,” has been held for 13 criminal charges against two girls including:
- 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 5-year felony.
The girls were 14 and 15 when they separately met up with Mitchell, after running away from their respective homes last year. Mitchell allegedly forced each girl to have sex with him and with multiple johns every night. The teens claim that he beat them if they resisted or didn’t bring back enough money, and on one occasion choked one girl and held a gun to the other’s head when they did something that displeased him.
Michigan has the 13th highest number of sex trafficking victims, and began criminalizing trafficking in 2006. The law was strengthened in 2010, becoming effective in April of 2011. Mitchell/Gruesome is the first person to be tried under the new code with stiffer penalties for pimps, and possibilities for restitution for the victims.
Becoming a runaway and getting forced into sex slavery are almost becoming synonomous. Each year, several hundred thousand children will run away from home. Most will return within a few days, but an alarming one out of three children will be coerced into prostituting themselves within 48 hours, and three out of four will become involved in theft, drugs or pornography. At any given time, there are 1.3 million homeless children in the US, with the average age of nine. This number does not reflect those in homeless families, those forced from their homes nor those abandoned by the foster care system.
Running away from home is not the answer, even if your homelife is abusive. If you or someone you know is thinking about running, call the National Runaway Hotline, 1-800-621-4000 or Covenant House International, 1-800-999-9999. Covenant House is a privately funded agency providing shelter and services for homeless and runaway youth.
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(c) 2011 Holly Craw. All rights reserved. You may link to this article or take an excerpt with due attribution to the author and a link back to this original article. Mention your link below to get a shoutout.