A Dorchester man was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in federal prison for his role in a vicious prostitution ring that trafficked teenage girls from Maine to Florida.
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Yahoo! Buzz ShareThis .US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner said the lengthy term was not only punishment for Eddie Jones, 27, but was also intended to deter others in the business of trafficking minors.
Because of the violence toward women and minors, “this was one of the most disturbing cases’’ she has seen, Gertner said. “The callousness . . . was quite extraordinary.’’
Jones was convicted last year of one count of conspiracy and two counts of transporting a minor across state lines to engage in prostitution. He is the last of six men to be sentenced in a federal case that put a spotlight on the growing problem of child prostitution in Boston and around the United States. Four men pleaded guilty to conspiracy, while Jones and Darryl Tavares were convicted in a 10-day jury trial that included the testimony of several victims who detailed their abuse and enslavement between 2001 and 2005. Tavares, of Revere, is already serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Child advocates applauded the sentence as an important step in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of minors, which ensnares tens of thousands of victims across the United States.
Lisa Goldblatt Grace — director of My Life My Choice, a program based in Boston that works to prevent the exploitation of at-risk girls — also lauded the young witnesses who testified against Jones and Tavares, some of them despite threats to their lives. One witness had to be relocated out of state to protect her safety.
“The young women that testified are heroes,’’ said Goldblatt Grace, adding that sex trafficking of minors remains a major problem. “There so much more work to do.’’
During the trial, one witness said she was 17 when Jones and a group of pimps picked her up outside her high school in Maine and brought her to Boston to work as a prostitute. Another said she was recruited by Jones when she was 16. She said she was choked and beaten when she broke his strict rules. A third said that when she was 17, Jones stomped on her face to punish her for using a cellphone.
In calling for a 25-year sentence for Jones, Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley described him as a “brutal offender’’ with a history of abusing women, including his own family members.
“The court needs to punish him,’’ she said. “You can not prostitute underage girls because you want money.’’
Jones told Gertner he made some bad choices, but was entitled to another chance. Several supporters gasped and cried when the sentence was announced. “Be strong,’’ Jones told them before being led away.
Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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