A 22 year-old man from Virginia has been sentenced to 186 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release, for crimes related to the prostitution and exploitation of a 15-year-old minor.
The sentence was handed down on July 20, 2018 by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia.
This case was brought forward as part of a nationwide initiative, called Project Safe Childhood, that seeks to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The initiative aims to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
In August 2017, 22-year-old Abdul Karim Bangura Jr. of Triangle, Virginia pleaded guilty to all counts of an indictment. The charges included sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor, interstate transportation of a minor for the purposes of prostitution, and production of child pornography.
22-year-old Bangura and his co-defendant Christian Hood conspired to recruit a 15-year-old girl to work as a prostitute and to advertise her prostitution services on a website. Bangura also transported the minor to hotels in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. for prostitution dates, and he took a portion of the money she made from commercial sex customers. In August 2017, Hood was also convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of this same minor.
According to Homeland Security (pdf), the average age of girls forced into the commercial sex trade is between 12 and 14; and for boys, it’s 11 to 13.
Last month, a Texas man was sentenced to life imprisonment for harboring and trafficking a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old girl for commercial sex, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Project Safe Childhood, led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), aims to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
What Children Need to Know
- Know who you are chatting to online.
- If you send compromising photos to someone, assume you are sending them to everyone.
- If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself, check your sources, go talk to other people.
- Find a trusted person you can talk to.
- If someone takes compromising photos of you, tell a trusted person immediately.
Red Flags for Parents and Adults to Watch For
- Sudden change in clothing, interests, or friends.
- Drifting away from family and friends.
- An older boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Unexplained absences and material possessions.
- Fearful, depressed, submissive, or nervous and paranoid behaviors.
- Uncharacteristically promiscuous behavior.
- Signs of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
SOURCES: Department of Homeland Security, National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Jan Edwards
If You See Something, Do Something
Charlotte Cuthbertson from The Epoch Times contributed to this report