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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Federal Jury Convicts Man of Sex Trafficking Two Minor Girls

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Woodbridge man today for sex trafficking two minor girls, ages 14 and 16.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Steve Nowell, 64, was a frequent commercial sex customer of a prostitution ring led by Michael Gunn, who trafficked the two minor girls over the course of two years in the DMV area. Nowell was identified by the minor victims, and by two co-conspirators of Michael Gunn, as a regular commercial sex customer who paid one or both minors for sex on at least 23 occasions. After a search warrant was executed at Nowell’s home, law enforcement found hidden cameras that secretly recorded at least one of the minors and other females in various stages of undress while at his residence for prostitution. Law enforcement also found numerous photographs of one of the minors posing nude in his bathtub and throughout his house, including in his kitchen, on a bear rug, and on exercise equipment. In a recorded interview, Nowell admitted to paying for sex with one of the minors. He claimed he did not know her real age.

Michael Gunn was convicted by a federal jury in September 2017, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in January 2018. Angel Gunn and Vanessa Dominguez, who assisted Michael Gunn in sex trafficking the minors, each pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 140 months and 120 months in prison, respectively.

Nowell faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on November 30. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Barry M. Barnard, Chief of Prince William County Police, and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maureen C. Cain and Kimberly R. Pedersen are prosecuting the case.

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 and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.justice.gov/psc.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-188.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated August 29, 2018