Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A Long Beach man faces a possible life sentence Monday for working with his mother to force a local runaway into prostitution beginning when the girl was 15.

Joshua Jerome Davis, who pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking conspiracy as well as two federal counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force, threats and coercion, was arrested two years ago, when investigators located and rescued the now-19-year-old victim, who was with Davis’ mother.

The mother, Sharilyn Kae Anderson, 46, also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 10.

Long Beach Police detectives opened an investigation in 2012 after the teen’s father reported her missing. The ensuing probe uncovered evidence that Davis, assisted and counseled by his mother, forced the victim to act as a prostitute at several hotels in Southern California and transported her across state lines to Nevada to engage in commercial sex at Las Vegas casinos, authorities said.

According to court documents, Davis first communicated with the girl on Facebook in 2010, when she was 14, leading to an initial in-person meeting in December 2011.

Several months later, the teen created an account on a website commonly used to promote prostitution and escort services, subsequently telling investigators she paid Davis about 30 percent of the proceeds she earned from commercial sex.

Initially, the girl claimed Davis believed she was 19. But when confronted by investigators with a text message from the defendant indicating he knew she was not yet 18, she recanted and said Davis believed she was 17, prosecutors said.

“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for minors involved in prostitution who are under duress to attempt to shield their pimps from law enforcement by withholding or minimizing information regarding the pimp’s knowledge and control over the minor’s activities,” Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, has said.

Court documents show that Anderson, when her son was unavailable, helped facilitate the prostitution scheme by transporting the teenager and a second victim to hotels to engage in prostitution. Anderson also threatened and assaulted the second victim to intimidate the woman to continue making money for her son through prostitution, according to prosecutors.

Davis, 24, was initially arrested in April 2013 and booked into the Long Beach City Jail on state pandering and human trafficking violations.

According to a case affidavit, Davis told investigators then that he obtained a hotel room for the teenage victim in Las Vegas “out of the goodness of his heart.” After posting bond in the state case, Davis absconded to the Las Vegas area, where he reunited with the teen and resumed his commercial sex activities, according to prosecutors.

“Human sex trafficking will not be tolerated in our city, especially when our children are victimized,” said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “We have made tremendous progress with our efforts to combat these horrific crimes. We will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to successfully investigate and prosecute those responsible.”

—City News Service

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