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Human trafficking victim gets harsh jail sentence instead of help

 Latesha Clay (Photo Credit; Seeking Freedom for 15 year old human trafficking victim sentenced to prison!)
Latesha Clay (Photo credit: Seeking Freedom for 15 year old human trafficking victim sentenced to prison)

An online petition is being circulated for a 15-year-old prostitute convicted for her role in the robbery of two men. Latesha Clay is a mother of two toddlers who posted ads for sex on the website Backpage. The ad specifically indicated that she was underage and when men arrived at a Motel 6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they were greeted by the teen who brandished a realistic looking toy pistol. According to court records, she pointed the gun at the men and forced them to give up cash. In one instance, she made one of her victims drive to an ATM and withdraw $300. Clay pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.

She was sentenced on Jan. 11, 2016, to nine years in prison by Kent County Circuit Judge George “Jay” Quist who stated that the teen deserved a stiff sentence because of the seriousness of her crimes. The day of her sentencing was also National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and her story shows the impact of the sex trafficking of teens. Clay was also a victim of human trafficking and it seems that this was not taken into account by the judge when he sentenced her. The fact of the matter is that she was a minor who was targeted for sex by adults who knew that she was underage in violation of state and federal laws. In addition, the website Backpage is also guilty of participating and profiting from human trafficking. It makes it easy for sex traffickers to market their victims to prospective customers. At any time of the day, a person can refine their search to their part of town and choose from a large selection of women. The ad often includes a graphic image and age; and rates. Tragically, the FBI reports that 40.4 percent of sex trafficking victims were Black. This is almost four times higher than the percentage of Blacks living in the U.S. The FBI also states that Black children under the age of 18 make up 55 percent of prostitution arrests in the nation.

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