Guilty Verdicts Reinstated In Sex Trafficking Cases
United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the convictions of two men previously acquitted of Commercial Sex Trafficking. The Court reinstated the convictions of Daron Jungers, age, 42, of Sioux City, Iowa, and Ronald Bonestroo, age 59, of Sioux Falls, and has ordered the district court to proceed with sentencing.
In February 2011, Jungers and Bonestroo were both charged in separate indictments with Commercial Sex Trafficking after answering on-line advertisements posted by undercover police officers. Jungers arranged to pay for sex with what he believed to be an 11-year-old girl in Sioux Falls and was arrested after he arrived at the undercover location. Bonestroo arranged to pay for sex with what he believed would be two 14-year-old girls in Sioux Falls and was arrested after he arrived at the undercover location. Homeland Security Investigations, along with the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted the on-line undercover operation, known as “Operation Crossing Guard,” to identify persons who attempt to purchase sex acts with children.
In October of 2011, Jungers was convicted by a federal jury in Sioux Falls and faced a minimum sentence of 15 years’ incarceration and a maximum of life imprisonment.
In November of 2011, Bonestroo was convicted by a federal jury in Sioux Falls and faced a minimum sentence of 10 years’ incarceration and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Two United States District Judges granted the men’s motions for judgment of acquittal after concluding the federal sex trafficking statute applied only to suppliers of commercial sex acts, not consumers. Jungers was acquitted in December 2011, and Bonestroo was acquitted in January 2012.
The January 7, 2013, reversal by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals marks the first holding on the issue by any federal court of appeals. It was determined that the statute does apply to both suppliers and consumers of commercial sex acts, and evidence in both cases showed the defendants were guilty of violating the statute.
"Sex trafficking of children is reprehensible, and whoever is involved in the process, whether it be the supplier or consumer, should be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms that. The decision provides my office additional tools to prosecute those who prey upon these victims of commercial sex trafficking,” said Johnson.
The cases were originally prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Clapper. Assistant United States Attorney Mark Salter wrote the United States’ appellate briefs, and United States Attorney Brendan Johnson argued the case on appeal.