QUEENS, NEW YORK - A Queens grand jury handed down the state’s first human trafficking indictment yesterday, accusing a South-Ozone Park man of forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution.
Woodley Gaston, 22, was charged with sex trafficking, second and third-degree promoting prostitution, third-degree rape, endangering the welfare of a child and permitting prostitution.
“The defendant is accused of participating in a modern-day version of slavery by holding a teenage girl captive and coercing her through psychological intimidation to prostitute herself for his own financial gain,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “
Gaston allegedly befriended the girl and forced her to work as a prostitute between March 5 and March 23, according to the charges. The girl was allegedly forced to work routes along Sutphin Boulevard and at Conduit Avenue near John F. Kennedy Airport. Gatson is also accused of advertising the girl on the Craig’s List, a popular Internet classifieds site. She was allegedly given a quota of 10 men per day and forced to give Gaston her prostitution earnings.
He is also accused of having sex with the girl and repeatedly threatening to kill her if she left him or found another pimp.
Gatson plead not guilty to the charges. His attorney, Alan Gordon, declined to comment on the case.
The trafficking indictment was made possible by new state legislation strengthening penalties against human traffickers, which went into effect on Nov. 1, 2007. The bill created a new class B felony – sex trafficking – for those who profit from prostitution through sex trafficking. The bill also requires those convicted to register as sex offenders with the state.
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