Two men and two women are each facing 25 years in prison for allegedly forcing girls as young as 12 into prostitution, District Attorney Charles Hynes announced on Monday.
DA Hynes called defendants Melinda Carmichael, 22; Gary Whitfield, 29; Kendale “Ace” Judge, 21; and Shanique Davis, 19; the “lowest of the low.”
“They forced children to have sex for money,” he said. “My oldest grandchild is 13. How this played out is such a nightmare for the kids and my sex trafficking unit and I will see them punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Prosecutors allege that Carmichael befriended a 12-year-old girl in November, 2010, promising her easy money and luxurious gifts. Carmichael then introduced the child to Whitfield, who forced her to dance at clubs and bachelor parties, officials say. A few months later, Whitfield forced the girl to pick up johns on the street.
In an unrelated case, Judge met a 13-year-old girl who ran away from a group home this past September. Prosecutors say that after promising to love and protect the young teen, he beat her and forced her into prostitution — advertising her services with pictures that were posted on the website Backpage.com. Davis took the photos for Judge, Hynes alleged.
All four suspects were arraigned on Monday. Attempts to reach their attorneys were unsuccessful by Monday afternoon.
The announcement of the sex-trafficking arrests came the same day that Avon announced it will donate toiletries and other products to sex-trafficking victims.
“Sex-trafficking victims are lucky to escape with the clothes on their backs,” Hynes said. “Something as simple as soap can help give them back some of the dignity and sense of independence of which they have been stripped.”
Railing against redistricting
A group of voters and civic leaders are petitioning Brooklyn Federal Court to assign a judge to supervise New York’s controversial redistricting process of state Assembly, Senate and congressional district lines that needs to be completed in the next few months.
In their 33-page suit filed on Nov. 17, attorneys from Willkie Farr and Gallagher said that an impartial judge should oversee the redistricting process because state lawmaker’s partisan bickering “threatens to throw the state’s 2012 elections into a quagmire absent court intervention.”
The firm filed for a group of plaintiffs — including East Flatbush resident Weyman Carey, who says he wants to volunteer for a political campaign, but state redistricting is preventing potential candidates from announcing their desires to run — who want to see the redistricting process sped up and based on numbers, not political ideologies.
District lines are changed every 10 years following the census, but plaintiffs claim that the redistricting decisions are not made by populations shift, but rather securing power for political parties.
“When New York’s legislators were running for office, they promised to reform the partisan system in which legislators draw their own lines and choose their own voters in order to assure their own re-election,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Richard Mancino and Dan Burstein, in a statement.
“But when those candidates were elected, they broke that promise.”
The plaintiffs, who named Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan) and State Senate Minority Leader John Sampson (D–Canarsie) as defendants, want the federal court to declare that the current redistricing process violates voters’ constitutional rights and appoint an independent “Special Master” to promote new state Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives district lines in conformity with the 2010 census.
State officials hadn’t responded to the suit by Monday night.
Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.