LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Long Beach man and his mother were in federal court Thursday for allegedly working together to prostitute a local runaway when the girl was only 15 years old.
A five-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury charged Joshua Jerome Davis, 22, and his mother, Sharilyn Kae Anderson, 45, with child sex trafficking; coercion and enticement of a minor; transporting a minor; and aiding and abetting, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Davis, who was allegedly assisted and counseled by Anderson, is accused of prostituting the victim at several hotels in Southern California and transporting her across state lines to Nevada to engage in commercial sex in Las Vegas casinos, prosecutors said.
According to publicly filed court documents, Davis first communicated with the victim on Facebook in 2010, when the victim was 14, leading to an initial in-person meeting in December 2011. Several months later, the victim created an account on a website commonly used to promote prostitution and escort services.
Prosecutors say she subsequently told investigators she paid Davis approximately 30 percent of the proceeds she earned from commercial sex. Initially, the victim claimed Davis believed she was 19, but when confronted by investigators with a text message from the defendant indicating he knew she was not yet 18, she recanted and said Davis believed she was 17.
“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for minors involved in prostitution who are under duress to attempt to shield their pimps from law enforcement by withholding or minimizing information regarding the pimp’s knowledge and control over the minor’s activities,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles.
Court documents allege Anderson helped facilitate the prostitution scheme by transporting the teenage victim and a second victim to hotels to engage in prostitution when her son was unavailable. Anderson also made threats to and assaulted the second victim to intimidate the victim to continue making money for her son by prostituting, prosecutors said.
Davis was initially arrested April 23 and booked into the Long Beach City Jail on state pandering and human trafficking violations.
According to a case affidavit, Davis had told investigators that he obtained a hotel room for the victim in Las Vegas “out of the goodness of his heart.” After posting bond in the state case, investigators say Davis absconded to the Las Vegas area, where he reunited with the victim and resumed his commercial sex activities.
If convicted, Davis and Anderson could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years.
Authorities believe the defendants may have additional unidentified victims. Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call HSI’s toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or submit information using HSI’s online tip form.