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March 24, 2010

HOUSTON AREA MAN FOUND GUILTY OF SEX TRAFFICKING OF A MINOR AND COERCING AND ENTICING AN ADULT TO COMMIT PROSTITUTION

(HOUSTON) – After a three-day trial and one and one-half hours of deliberation, a federal jury has returned its verdicts finding a Houston area man guilty of sex trafficking of a minor, enticing and coercing an adult and transporting the victims across state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.

Barry Lernard Davis, aka “Sir Lewis,” 34, a Houston resident, was found guilty today of one count each of sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity as well as coercion and enticement of an adult to engage in criminal sexual activity. The jury returned its verdicts in open court this afternoon to U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon.

The federal charges brought against Davis are the result of an investigation conducted by the Houston Innocence Lost Task Force, led by the FBI. The investigation began in September 2006, when the Pasadena Independent School District Police Department received a report of a missing child. The child was recovered within several days and it was then learned the child had been transported from Texas to Louisiana for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. The interstate travel invoked federal jurisdiction and the information was reported to the FBI. During its investigation, FBI discovered that in addition to the minor, Davis had also coerced and enticed an adult to engage in prostitution.

Testimony at trial revealed Davis lured the victims with promises of shelter, food and material possessions. Once under his influence, they were controlled with both physical and sexual violence and the threat of deadly repercussions if they left him. The first victim, then a 16-year-old minor, testified she was photographed nude in seductive settings for the purpose of advertisements for prostitution posted online. She said that at the time of the incidents, Davis not only knew she was 16, but also that she was pregnant. Moreover, the minor testified she feared Davis.

The adult victim also testified at trial, recounting for the jury the numerous brutal beatings she suffered at the hands of Davis, including an incident where he broke her nose and forced her to “turn a trick” minutes later. She told the jury that Davis put a gun to her head and told her that if she ever left him he would hunt her down and kill her. Additionally, this victim described in detail the underworld of pimps and prostitutes known as “the game,” including the “rules” adhered to by both pimps and prostitutes. All monies she and the minor victim earned were taken by Davis.

This investigation as well as the experiences of law enforcement led to testimony by special agents of the FBI confirming not only the existence of this underworld, its “rules” but that there exists a special vocabulary commonly used among those in this illicit underworld. The behavior of Davis, as testified to by the witnesses, showed he was fully engaged in the world of pimps and prostitutes. Davis forced both victims to be tattooed with either his name or initials, a common underworld practice, known as “branding.” 

Forensic analysis of Davis’s computer conducted by the Greater Houston Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory revealed pictures of both victims on his computer. Hotel records verified that Davis traveled out of state with the victim’s which was corroborated by photos of them in several different states.

Sentencing is set for July 16, 2010. Davis faces up to 40 years in federal prison, without parole, for sex trafficking of a minor, a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to life imprisonment for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for coercion and enticement of the adult. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Davis also faces a maximum of a life term of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender.
 
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice  to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case is being prosecuted Special Assistant United States Attorney Angela S. Goodwin of the Texas Attorney General’s Office and by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. Zack of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

 

 

 

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