Jury Convicts CNMI Karaoke Bar Owner Of Sex Trafficking
Saipan, MP – U.S. Attorney Alicia A.G. Limtiaco announced that on Friday, June 7, 2013, a federal jury convicted CHANG RU MENG BACKMAN (age 40) of the People’s Republic of China, of one count of Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1591, in the District of the Northern Mariana Islands between August 2008 and March 2009. BACKMAN faces a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen (15) years and a maximum term of life in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for September 13, 2013, before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.
This prosecution resulted from an investigation that began in the summer of 2009 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to the evidence presented at court, BACKMAN, who was the “boss-lady” of the Holiday Karaoke Club, coerced vulnerable Chinese women into having sex with customers of the club, for her own financial benefit. BACKMAN preyed upon women who had been enticed to come to Saipan from China with promises of legitimate work on a farm, hotel or a restaurant. Once the women arrived, BACKMAN used their debt, lack of legal immigration status, and inability to speak English to compel them to engage in commercial sex acts at her business -- the Holiday Karaoke Club. BACKMAN also drove the women to and from the bar so that the women would have sex with men at her direction. Three victims testified at the trial and the jury found BACKMAN guilty of one of three counts of sex trafficking.
The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Jaime Prida and the United States was represented at trial by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rami S. Badawy and Ross K. Naughton, and U.S. Attorney Limtiaco. After the trial, U.S. Attorney Limtiaco, stated, “The sexual exploitation of vulnerable individuals is an affront to fundamental human rights, and it cannot be tolerated. Human traffickers trick, lie and coerce victims with promises of work in a legitimate job. In reality, these victims lose their freedom and are horribly demeaned by the sexual acts that they are forced to perform. The defendant preyed on the hopes and dreams of the victims, forcing them into a life of prostitution. The jury's verdict makes clear that sex trafficking schemes will not be tolerated. We will continue to find traffickers and hold them accountable for their crimes."
“This successful prosecution, was brought about through the hard work of the FBI in collaboration with local law enforcement and the CNMI Attorney General’s Office, to combat sex trafficking. This prosecution is the result of the tireless pursuit by law enforcement of those responsible for the sexual exploitation of women, and our joint commitment to attaining justice for the victims of these horrendous crimes.”