Press Release, For Immediate Release, Case #13WF0628: March 4, 2014
*Co-defendant prostitute/recruiter has been convicted and sentenced in this case
SANTA ANA – A pimp faces trial today for trafficking a 14-year-old girl into prostitution in the first Orange County case of human trafficking of a minor under Proposition 35 (Prop 35). Chuncey Tarae Garcia, 33, is charged with one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor by force or fear, pimping a minor, and forcible rape, with sentencing enhancement allegations for forcible rape of a minor 14 years of age and prior prison convictions for possession for sale of cocaine in 2007 and transportation of cocaine in 2009. If convicted, Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 28 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin today, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Cierra Melissa Robinson, 28, was found guilty by a jury July 11, 2013, of one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor and pandering of a minor under 16 years old by procuring. She was sentenced Aug. 23, 2013, to five years in state prison.
Circumstances of the Case
Garcia is accused of being a pimp and Robinson worked for him as a prostitute and recruited other women to prostitute for Garcia. In the primp/prostitution subculture, pimps often assign ranks to the women they exploit. They often establish rigid rules that their victims are expected to follow including requiring victims to speak only when spoken to, address the pimp as “Sir” or “Daddy,” setting daily quotas that the victims are expected to fulfill, and assigning seats in the car based on “rank.” Failure to follow these rules can result in deprivation of food and/or physical or emotional abuse. Robinson was the highest-ranking of Garcia’s prostitutes.
In February 2013, 14-year-old Jane Doe lived in another state and ran away from home. A missing persons report was filed by her family. After running away, Jane Doe met Robinson, who befriended the victim with the intention of procuring her as a prostitute for Garcia.
On or about February 22, 2013, Robinson introduced Garcia to Jane Doe, and Garcia and Robinson are accused of taking the victim to a hotel room under the pretense of offering her an opportunity to make money by answering phones. Once at the hotel, Garcia is accused of telling Jane Doe that she would be working as a prostitute for him. Garcia is accused of telling Robinson to purchase a cell phone for Jane Doe and post sexually explicit advertisements depicting Jane Doe online. Two days later, Garcia is accused of driving Jane Doe, along with Robinson and a third woman, into California to Orange County.
Garcia is accused of taking the victim to Buena Park and Anaheim and forcing her to work as a prostitute by walking down the street in high-prostitution areas. He is also accused of posting sexually suggestive ads of Jane Doe on known prostitution websites. Garcia is accused of forcing Jane Doe to have sex with random adult sex purchasers, collecting all of the money she received from men, and setting a daily quota that Jane Doe had to meet under the threat of withholding meals if she did not bring in enough money.
After Jane Doe’s first day as a forced prostitute, Garcia is accused of raping the victim by duress, as she was too fearful of the defendant to resist. Jane Doe was vulnerable, isolated, and scared of the defendant, who had been violent toward her and whom she had witnessed be violent toward another woman.
After initially recruiting Jane Doe and procuring her to Garcia, Robinson outlined the rules of prostitution to Jane Doe, including instructing her on how much to charge for various sex acts, dress code, assigned seats in the car, and proper names to call Garcia, including “Daddy” or “Sir.” Garcia is also accused of outlining the rules of prostitution and telling Jane Doe that the victim was not allowed to look at black men because they may be pimps and interpret her looks as an invitation to take her money.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on March 1, 2013, Garcia and Robinson are accused of driving with another woman and Jane Doe in Garden Grove. A Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) officer pulled the car over in a routine traffic stop for a broken headlight. Upon making contact with the driver and passengers in the vehicle, the officer became suspicious because Jane Doe looked extremely young and the area was known to the officer to be a high-prostitution area.
The GGPD officer began an initial investigation and identified Jane Doe as both a missing person and a victim of human trafficking. Jane Doe was taken into protective custody and Garcia and Robinson were arrested at the scene.
This case was investigated by GGPD and Deputy District Attorney Daniel Varon of the HEAT Unit is prosecuting 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.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit 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.
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney 401 Civic Center Drive West Santa Ana, CA 92701