MAN SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING, CONSPIRING TO PIMP, AND ASSAULTING WOMAN WITH HIS BELT

Case # 15NF1246

Date: April 13, 2016

MAN SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING, CONSPIRING TO PIMP, AND ASSAULTING WOMAN WITH HIS BELT

*Defendant violated probation for keeping in contact with one of the victims

FULLERTON, Calif. – A man was sentenced to six years in state prison today for violating his probation, human trafficking, conspiring to pimp, and assaulting a woman with his belt. Theram Clark, 32, Tennessee, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2015, to one felony count of human trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to commit pimping, one felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury. Clark was sentenced that day to a negotiated plea of six years in state prison stayed pending the completion of five years of formal probation and was ordered to stay away from the victims.

Circumstances of the Case

Clark is a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women for financial gain. The victims are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. Failure to follow these rules can result physical and/or emotional abuse.

Between May 1, 2015, and May 7, 2015, the defendant pimped and pandered Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 by encouraging and persuading the victims to engage in performing commercial sex acts. Clark dropped the victims off in various cities in Orange County to solicit commercial sex and kept some or all of the money that they received from performing commercial sex acts.

Around May 1, 2015, Clark met Jane Doe 1 in a hotel in Las Vegas. The defendant trafficked the victim by depriving her of her liberty and drove her from Las Vegas to areas known for human trafficking and prostitution in Orange County.

On May 7, 2015, Clark assaulted Jane Doe 1 by repeatedly beating her with his belt in a motel room in Stanton.

Circumstances of the Probation Violation

After receiving the terms of his sentence, Clark went to Florida with Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2.

Clark violated the terms of his probation by remaining in contact with the victims.

Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) conducted a further investigation with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies in Florida. Clark is accused of being in a motel room with one of the victims and attempting to pimp the same victim.

“In the settling of this case, and knowing full well that human traffickers tend to be repeat offenders, it is a priority for the OCHTTF and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) to maintain a close watch on defendants like Clark who often continue commit the same crimes using the same victims. We went into action when the defendant insisted on hanging himself with the rope the Task force gave him!” said OCDA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder.

“This investigation illustrates the cooperation that takes place between law enforcement agencies, across the nation, when it comes to apprehending pimps and human traffickers. It also shows the commitment task force investigators and prosecutors put forth in following up on pimps and traffickers who end up on probation. Bottom line, there is no place far enough that a suspect can go to and escape the reach of the OCHTTF,” said OCHTTF Sergeant Juan Reveles.

Members of the OCHTTF and the OCDA work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by OCHTTF, a partnership between Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, Irvine Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Ana Police Department, and community and non-profit partners.

Deputy District Attorney Brad Schoenleben of the HEAT Unit prosecuted this case.

Proposition 35 and HEAT

In November 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force.

A component of the OCHTTF is the OCDA’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution, to bring justice for victims of human trafficking and hold perpetrators responsible using Prop 35; Education, to provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources from public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity, to inform the public and send a message to human traffickers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.  

Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Pimping is described as knowingly deriving financial support in whole or in part from the proceeds of prostitution. Pandering is the act of persuading or procuring an individual to become a prostitute, or procuring and/or arranging for a person work in a house of prostitution.

Penal Code Section 236.1 defines:

(1) “Coercion” includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or providing and facilitating the possession of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair the person’s judgment.

(2) “Commercial sex act” means sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person.

(3) “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out.

(4) “Duress” includes a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution sufficient to cause a reasonable person to acquiesce in or perform an act which he or she would otherwise not have submitted to or performed; a direct or implied threat to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim; or knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim.

(5) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, duress, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person.

(6) “Great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury.

(7) “Minor” means a person less than 18 years of age.

(8) “Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.

(i) The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the trafficker or agents of the trafficker, and any handicap or disability of the victim, shall be factors to consider in determining the presence of “deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another,” “duress,” and “coercion” as described in this section.