The U.S. Attorney’s Office has reported a 600% increase in human trafficking in the last 5 years; most of these involve sex trafficking of children:
A San Diego man has been sentenced to 12 years prison after he pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children. The man was identified as a “pimp” when detectives discovered his connection to online advertisements for escorts involving underage girls working as prostitutes.
One of the girls who worked for the suspect, described him as “ruthless” and “crazy”. She also stated that he physically assaulted for hiding money from him. Court documents further showed that the man beat the girl and took the money she made from prostitution to buy sneakers from a Gucci store.
Stories involving child abuse and harm are some of the most difficult to hear. Unfortunately, reports such as this one are prevalent in our everyday news.
According to this article by Fox 5 San Diego, a South Bay elementary school teacher is accused of possessing child pornography and using it to convince boys to expose themselves online. The 41-year-old was previously charged with molesting a former student. Today, he faces new charges which include allegations of a sex crime committed against a second boy. In addition to previous charges, the suspect now faces 12 counts of committing a lewd act on a child involving a second victim.
The first-grade teacher was initially arrested after agents with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his home. An investigation discovered the suspect posed as a girl on website called “MeetMe” and persuaded boys to expose themselves live via webcam.
“According to the UT San Diego news on February 7, 2013, a teacher at the New Haven Youth & Family Services in Vista, a residential and educational facility in the northern part of San Diego County that treats boys from about 8 to 17 who suffer from emotional and behavioral challenges, was charged with having sex with a 16 year old former student at the facility. The Court ordered 35 year old Kelly McKenzy Watson, to be incarcerated in County Jail for one year with probation for 3 years. Although the Judge did not require her to register as a sex offender (RSO), he did include in his Order that she not work with minors in the future.
The article revealed the teenager had not considered himself a victim, he cares for and did not want the soon to be mother of his child to go to jail, and he wants to be involved in the life of their child. The Judge noted that Watson would be released from jail early in consideration for the health of the unborn child, and if she successfully completes probation Watson will not serve the remainder of her jail sentence.
It is clear such a sexual relationship is inappropriate, inexcusable and illegal. This conduct cannot be condoned in society, particularly since teachers hold a position of trust. In reviewing many of these cases, however, there does not appear to have been deviant sexual behavior, and the individuals have often evinced a strong bond of love and affection. On September 5, 2012, the Commission on Teaching Credentials suspended Watson for this misconduct pursuant to Education Code section 44940.. There are many unintended consequences in this tragic story, and in particular the loss of a Special Education teacher who are otherwise much needed in the school system. Click this link for the licensing status of the former educator who received her initial teaching credential in 2004:
Commentary by Sex Crime Defense and San Diego Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:
“On January 21, 2013, in the digital edition of the NBC Channel 39 news, an article was published regarding the growing sexual crimes, including sodomy, adultery, pornography and related offenses such as sexual harassment. It was revealed that about 30% of commanders in the military were ousted because of sex crimes and misconduct during the past eight years.
Some top officials believe a policy of zero tolerance equally and more consistently enforced across all ranks within the military service, whether generals or admirals may curb this increased problem. Others believe the ethics training that is given in the military needs to be implemented earlier in everyone’s career.
Whether it is declining ethical values &/or alcohol and drug related issues, these problems are pervasive in the military as we have also seen in various other positions in government, all the way up the ladder to those who have been respected as leaders in the House, the Senate and even former Presidents. Perhaps the situation is no different than what exists in society today, however, we expect those in governing positions to be models for the rest of us who should be able to emulate great qualities and not substantial lapses in judgment. There may be a silver lining in that more misdeeds are being reported and the public is not ignoring such offenses &/or these transgressions, but demanding justice.
The role of the defense lawyer not only serves to refute any or all of the elements of a crime, but most often to establish the redeeming qualities of the offender, if any, as well as remorse and rehabilitation.”
Commentary by Sam Spital, Criminal and Sex Crime Defense Attorney:
“UT San Diego news reported January 4, 2013 that Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) participated in a national child predator sweep entitled Operation Sunflower in which seven individuals in San Diego were arrested for 20 felony charges of attempted molestation of a minor under age 14, along with distributing and possession of child pornography. It was revealed that one of the children was 19 days old and five of the victims were under age 3. The defendants range in age from 25 to 57, and one was listed as a teacher in the Chula Vista Elementary School.
The article did not contain any other details regarding the suspects, the presence or lack of a criminal history, nor any discussion regarding possible arguments on behalf of the individuals, mitigation and/or evidence of remorse. It strains credulity that far too many stories fail to provide a balanced account of a totality of the facts and circumstances. Perhaps on a re-examination of the underlying goals in publishing news that fully informs the public the editors will require a full and complete report.”
Commentary by San Diego Sex Crimes Defense & Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:
“On Monday, December 17, 2012, KNBC Channel 7 online edition contained a story regarding a hearing before the United States District Court and the validity of a recent 81% voter-approved initiative commonly referred to as Proposition 35 requiring registered sex offenders (RSO’s) to give authorities a list of their Internet providers and screen names. Currently there are about 73,000 RSO’s in the California Registry, and many of their convictions had nothing to do with using the internet.
The ACLU sued and contended the provision violates equal protection, due process and free speech of sex offenders pursuant to the U.S. Constitution. Thereafter, the Federal District Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of that portion of the new law. Now, the Federal Court will decide the nature and scope of free speech rights of such defendants, and whether registered sex offenders must reveal their online information such as email addresses, usernames, social media passwords and their Internet service providers to law-enforcement officials is lawful. The District Court case does not impact the increased sentences (longer prison terms) for convictions of human trafficking, nor that these convicted defendants must register as sex offenders.
The position of the Attorney General of the State of California is that law enforcement needs this information to investigate sex crimes and prevent them before they take place, also claiming this information is not a public record. However, this is a slippery slope in that the next thing the government will seek is to monitor everything we view online, including the books we purchase and read.”
COMMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, SAN DIEGO CRMINAL, PERSONAL INJURY AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW ATTORNEY:
“On December 6, 2012, KFMB Channel 8 posted online an article about a 54 year old man who was convicted of child molestation and oral copulation of a 4 year old child. He faces up the 23 years to life in prison. The prosecution alleged the defendant molested the minor when his wife was not present and while she was attending other duties at her home child care business. The defense attorney claimed the charges were false and his client did not touch any child as alleged by the Deputy District Attorney. The story did not go into sufficient facts for one to evaluate the propriety of the arguments, presentation of evidence and/or strength and scope of the defense.
The article reported the eligibility to operate as a day care business at the home in question was suspended. More information regarding the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division, can be viewed online at the following link: https://ccld.ca.gov/PG411.htm. Some of the cases that have been cited as precedent by CDSS can be viewed at https://ccld.ca.gov/res/pdf/Precedent.pdf
One can check online to follow the disciplinary status of all professions and businesses licensed in California by a search starting with the identity of the government agency that issues the applicable license (Board of Registered Nursing, Medical Board of California, Board of Psychology, Pharmacy Board, Dental Board, Department of Real Estate, Department of Insurance, etc.) and then enter the name of the person and/or entity.”
commentary by SAM SPITAL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER:
“KFMB Channel 8 TV News on December 3, 2012 wrote an account of an 18 year old man who was accused of having sex with a 16 year old teenager who passed out after binge drinking, who pled not guilty to felony charges of sexual penetration of an intoxicated person. Apparently, the victim was unconscious until the next morning at about 10:00 a m. There were three other suspects involved in the assault, two boys aged 17 and one girl age 14, each of whom are in Juvenile Court facing detention hearings. It was reported all of the individuals knew each other, went to the same high school and lived in the same neighborhood.
The reporter did not seek any further information, so it is unclear what the defense posture will be. The adult in the group faces State Prison for up to eight years.”
“It has been reported that prostitution rings in San Diego are among the worst in the United States and involve young girls from the age of 12 to 14, many of whom are transported over the border from Mexico and others who live in San Diego and often frequent the local shopping malls, who are initially promised by ostensible boyfriends as well as pimps what they hope to have as better opportunities. At the point a child becomes enlightened and realizes the plight she is in, she faces threats and beatings if she tries to leave or escape.
The FBI has reported San Diego is among the eight top cities in the nation for child sexual exploitation. Much of the business comes from free advertisements placed on widely known and commonly used internet sites, while others from newspaper and magazine classified ads. While it is outrageous and despicable to have unsuspecting young children forced into prostitution and other crime, it has become a far too common occurrence in society today.
Sadly, there are increased numbers of dysfunctional families and maladjusted children due in large part because of the stresses of everyday life, vastly rising numbers of divorces, use of drugs and/or the lack of proper and sufficient interpersonal relationships, some of which the latter is believed to be a result of the increased use of and reliance upon email and text messaging.
Parents, counselors, teachers, churches and synagogues need to work together to find and maintain workable solutions to enhance family interactions and social life.
On November 29, 2012, a NBC Channel 7 reporter posted an article online regarding a husband and wife who were arrested for 13 felony counts of aggravated assault upon a 12 year old girl in connection with allegations of sexual and physical abuse, as well as forced labor as a result of human trafficking by the couple. The arresting law enforcement officers confirmed this young child was smuggled across the border from Mexico into San Diego at the age of 12 ‘with promises of a better life and receiving an education.The article did not, however, contain any information or facts related to a possible defense, explanation, or mitigation that might be used by counsel for the two suspects.”
–Commentary by Criminal Defense Lawyer Sam Spital
COMMENTARY BY ATTORNEY SAM SPITAL:
“A former SDPD Officer previously convicted of felony and misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, bribery and assault and battery by a police officer and sentenced for nine years in State Prison was reported on November 14, 2012 in the CBS online news to have been the perpetrator to several women victims, one of whom received a nearly ¾ million dollar settlement approved by the San Diego City Council. Among other chilling facts, this particular victim told about the officer stating he would let her go without a citation for a vehicular violation ‘if she showed her breasts and let him put his hand down her pants,’ at which point the former officer reached into her pants and touched her private parts. This traffic stop at 2:00 a.m. no doubt resulted in severe emotional distress to the victim and she will likely be scarred for a very long time. On the other hand, the former officer’s career in law enforcement is over and he no doubt regrets these improprieties; it is hoped he will consider his actions and strive to have remorse and rehabilitation for his crimes.”
–ATTORNEY SAM SPITAL