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Friday, August 19, 2011

[t]he first person charged under Michigan's new human trafficking law’s-court-hearing#.Tk4xqkICNxY.facebook

Last Updated: August 19. 2011 1:00AM

Girl held as sex slave tells of beatings at suspect's court hearing

Doug Guthrie/ The Detroit News

Detroit — A soft-voiced girl testified Thursday in the city's 36th District Court she was a 14-year-old runaway last summer when she spent a month selling her body on a Detroit street corner under the constant threat of beatings and death.

"We had to come home with at least $200. If I didn't, he would beat me," the girl testified at a preliminary examination for the man accused of making her and another teenage girl his sexual slaves.

Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, 32, also known as "Gruesome," is the first person charged under Michigan's new human trafficking law, a felony that carries a penalty of up to life in prison. He was apprehended last month in Mojave, Calif., according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Mitchell is charged with multiple crimes, including first-degree criminal sexual assault, racketeering, prostitution, felonious assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, for allegedly holding the then-14-year-old and a then-15-year-old girl captive for two months in a house on Detroit's east side.

One victim, whom Judge Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford asked the media not to name, testified Thursday about meeting Mitchell three days after running away from home July 4, 2010. She said she was taken to a drug house where she smoked marijuana and had sex with Mitchell.

A few days later, the girl testified Mitchell told her and another girl he "wanted us to make him some money … I understood he wanted us to sell our bodies."

Mitchell is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting both girls, once choking the then-15-year-old when she resisted his sexual advances, according to investigators. The other alleged victim testified Thursday that Mitchell held a gun to her head and told her he would kill her if she failed to do everything he asked.

"He would get mad," the girl testified. "He always wanted me to know I was his (whore) and he could control me, not nobody else."

She described standing on the corner of Fenkel and Livernois every day through August of last summer, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., having sex for money with as many as six men a night. She said Mitchell also had sex with her, as often as three times a day. She said she turned over all the money she earned, and Mitchell bought her fast food and revealing clothing.

"He told me to leave with no guys unless they was a customer or he would come back and beat me or kill me," the girl testified.

The alleged victim said a third girl under Mitchell's control was tied up and scalded with hot water in the basement of a Detroit home near the Eastland Center mall for insulting one of Mitchell's friends.

Assistant Attorney General Kelly Carter told the judge authorities don't know the whereabouts of this other girl.

The alleged victim who testified Thursday said she eventually got the courage to tell Mitchell she didn't want to be a prostitute, and she said he offered her a choice of continuing or taking a beating before he would allow her to leave.

"I took the beating," she said, but after a few days alone on the street, she said she called Mitchell and asked him to take her back. She said she "wasn't ready yet" to go home.

Mitchell's arrest followed investigations by Michigan State Police and the FBI through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force.

A Michigan law banning human trafficking was strengthened in 2010 and went into effect in April. The changes included adding trafficking to the list of offenses included under the state's racketeering law.

It authorizes additional compensation for trafficking victims and stronger penalties against offenders.

The hearing ended Thursday without conclusion. It will resume Sept. 8 with testimony from the other alleged victim.

(313) 222-2548

From The Detroit News:’s-court-hearing#ixzz1VT0pP9pR

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