Felony Human Trafficking Probation Revoked After Brave Victim Testifies Via Skype
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14th, 2014
Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931
Stephanie Ong Stillman, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
Maxwell Szabo, (415) 553-9089
Prosecutors, Investigators and Victim Advocates Go Above and Beyond to Protect Victim of Human Trafficking
SAN FRANCISCO – On Tuesday, March 11, the Honorable Judge Ross sentenced Brazil Harris to five years state prison on a motion to revoke probation, the maximum allowable under state guidelines. Mr. Harris was originally sentenced in San Diego County on charges of human trafficking, and due to his residency his probation was transferred to San Francisco at the end of 2012. Over a four day period in July of 2013, however, investigators suspected that Harris trafficked, sexually assaulted and took explicit photos of a 15 year old girl with special needs.
“When I heard the extent of the allegations I became very concerned, and I knew that we needed to go the extra mile to take this human trafficker off the street,” said District Attorney George Gascón.
While the conduct originated in San Francisco, many of the offenses occurred in Los Angeles, and the bulk of the evidence was collected by the Los Angeles Police Department who took Harris into custody on July 13th, 2013. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Harris for Human Trafficking, Pimping, Pandering, and Sexual Assault. The case, however, was dismissed due to the victim’s inability to testify. The victim was terrified of Harris, and was unable to be in the same room as him.
In October of 2013, a motion to revoke Harris’s probation was filed, and the defendant was brought to San Francisco for the hearing. Prosecutor Alexis Fasteau, accompanied by Victim Advocate Amanda Reichmuth and SFPD Inspector Tony Flores, drove more than three hours to meet and develop a rapport with the victim. This fostered trust which enabled ADA Fasteau to overcome the situation that led to the dismissal in Los Angeles. The concern was that if required to testify in the same room as Harris, the victim would become suicidal.
Assistant District Attorney Fasteau filed a motion to have the victim testify from a different room. Judge Ross granted the motion, and with the help of the District Attorney’s IT team, the 15 year old victim was able to testify via Skype from the adjacent jury room. Her testimony was essential to revoking Harris’s probation, and after the hearing she indicated that she was proud of herself for standing up to her sexual assailant and pimp.
District Attorney George Gascón said, “I commend the victim and her family for their strength and resolve. This would not have been possible without their commitment to ensuring justice was served.”
This success is a result of the extraordinary dedication of Assistant District Attorney Alexis Fasteau, District Attorney Investigator Van Jackson, Victim Advocate Amanda Reichmuth, Paralegal Maria Lopez, IT Manager Voltaire Almendrala, and SFPD Inspector Tony Flores. The assistance and cooperation of the victim’s therapist and family members who supported her throughout the ordeal and during her testimony were also critical.
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