A convicted felon who compelled a 15-year-old girl to work as a prostitute in Riverside and San Bernardino counties was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in state prison.
DeJuan Darsean Lewis, 35, pleaded guilty in March to pimping, witness intimidation, assault and two counts of unlawful intercourse with a minor.
In February, his co-defendant, 31-year-old Brandon Deonte Ellison, pleaded guilty to pimping and recruiting a minor for the purpose of prostitution. He was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
The pair were arrested in April 2016 following a Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force investigation.
According to investigators, the defendants became acquainted with the victim, whose identity was not released, after an encounter at the Moreno Valley Mall in March 2015.
They coaxed the girl into joining them and then would not permit her to leave once she was under their control, investigators said.
The girl was taken to an apartment in Palm Desert, where the defendants snapped explicit photographs of her and where Lewis beat and sexually assaulted her, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The girl’s pictures and services were broadcast via online classified advertisements.
She was then put to work as a prostitute and transported to Colton, Indio, Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga and other inland locations as part of a two-month-long sex trafficking operation, according to prosecutors.
The teen was threatened with injury or death if she attempted to get away. However, in May 2015, she managed to escape and reveal what had happened to her, investigators said.
According to court records, Lewis had a prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury. Ellison had no documented priors.