Denver man gets 24 years to life for sex trafficking 15-year-old girl in historic conviction


Denver man gets 24 years to life for sex trafficking 15-year-old girl in historic conviction

Matthew Weatherspoon was found guilty in May of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude

Denver Post file

Amanda Finger, Executive Director of the non-profit Laboratory to
Combat Human Trafficking, works from her office in Denver on Monday,
Aug. 25, 2014.

PUBLISHED: August 9, 2016 at 10:44 am | UPDATED: August 9, 2016 at 12:17 pm
Matthew Weatherspoon. Arapahoe County
Matthew Weatherspoon.

A 24-year-old Denver man was sentenced Monday to 24 years to life in
prison for sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl in the metro area,
prosecutors say.

Matthew Weatherspoon was found guilty in May of human trafficking of a
minor for sexual servitude, patronizing a child prostitute, pimping a
child, pandering of a child and keeping a place of child prostitution.
He also was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The case was tried in Arapahoe County, where prosecutors say it was the first to go to trial under Colorado’s 2014 updated human trafficking laws.

According to authorities, Weatherspoon came under investigation
after the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force was tipped off
by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to a girl who
appeared to be advertising herself online.

Investigators tracked the tip to an Arapahoe County motel room where
they found a 15-year-old girl living with Weatherspoon, the 18th
Judicial District Attorney’s Office says.

“The girl, a runaway, had met Weatherspoon on the 16th Street Mall in
Denver during the (city’s) 4/20 celebration,” the district attorney’s
office said in a Tuesday news release. “They were living on the money
the girl made through prostitution.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Cara Morlan said in her opening
statements to the jury overseeing the case that in less than 24 hours
after meeting the victim, Weatherspoon had convinced her that if she
loved him, she would sell her body for sex in order to support them,
prosecutors said.

Investigators say over 10 days, the victim engaged in more than 20 separate acts of prostitution.

District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement: “There is no
rehabilitation for such a predator. There is prison, to punish him and
to protect us.”

In May, a Lakewood mother accused of pimping out her 12-year-old
daughter pleaded guilty in what Jefferson County prosecutors say was the first conviction under Colorado’s new sex trafficking laws.

The state’s updated human trafficking statutes went into effect in July 2014.

Prosecutors and lawmakers hope the changes, which align Colorado’s
laws with federal ones, will augment the tools available to battle the
problem and that offenses that before fell under the category of
pimping, pandering or prostitution can now be considered more serious
trafficking felonies with more stringent penalties.

Activists have lauded the new laws as a major — and necessary — step forward in the state’s battle against trafficking.

 

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