Sweeny Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Minors
GALVESTON, Texas - A 33-year-old resident of Sweeny has admitted he employed sexually-oriented websites advertising three minors as young as 15 for commercial sex, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Joseph Church pleaded guilty today on the first day trial was set to begin before U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr.
The young girls were induced into posing for pictures used in online advertisements for sex and engaged in commercial sex acts for money. Church and others collected all of the money the girls earned. Church transported victims to commercial sex dates and used motels to harbor the minors. Cell phone applications were used to monitor the victims and post on-line advertisements featuring the minors. Church and his co-defendants were aware that the victims were under the age of 18 when they were caused to engage in commercial sex.
Church, the leader of the group, was the last of seven to plead guilty in this case.
Several others have pleaded guilty for their respective roles on the conspiracy, gun charges, and the posting of the commercial sex ads - Angela Marks, 25, of Sweeny; Jamaal Crane, 26, of Angleton; Norris Moon, 25, and Christopher Walton, 24, both of Brazoria; Alisa Kimbler, 26, of Freeport; and Eric Page, 20 of Sherman.
Church has been detained since his arrest and will remain in custody until his sentencing scheduled for May 15,2019.
Church faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison. Potentially, he could also be ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and serve at least five years and up to life on supervised release. He will be required to register as a sex offender.
The FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation with assistance of sheriff’s offices in Brazoria and Galveston Counties and police departments in Galveston, Sherman, Wharton, La Marque and the University of Texas Medical Branch. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sherri Zack and Sebastian Edwards prosecuted the case.