Roxbury men to be sentenced for human trafficking
Two Roxbury men believed to be the first to be convicted under Massachusetts’ new human trafficking statute are due to be sentenced on Monday for forcing drug-addicted women into sexual servitude and keeping the money for themselves.
Tyshaun McGhee, 34, and Sidney McGee, 30, face up to 20 years in state prison for recruiting the women in September 2012, giving them drugs and promising them wealth, according to prosecutors. The pair then coerced them into sexual activity with men who responded to online advertisements.
Both men were acquitted of additional counts of aggravated rape, prosecutors said.
“This was anything but a victimless crime,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. “These women were homeless, drug-dependent, and vulnerable. The defendants ruthlessly exploited them through prostitution. This case is a perfect example of why we fought so hard for a human trafficking statute in Massachusetts, and why our enforcement efforts today target pimps and johns.”
Massachusetts’ human trafficking statute was passed into law in late 2011 with key language drafted by Conley and Attorney General Martha Coakley. That followed by several years a voluntary policy shift in which Conley adopted a “safe harbor” policy for prostituted youth, treating them as victims of exploitation rather than offenders; that voluntary policy was later mandated statewide. Members of Conley’s staff also direct the Support to End Exploitation Now program, a multi-agency task force that connects young exploitation victims with a wide array of services and has twice been named a Top 50 Innovative Government Program by a Harvard University think tank.
One victim, age 24 at the time, told jurors that the defendants approached her outside a Boston hospital and offered her drugs. She said they provided her with crack cocaine and took her to Tyshaun McGhee’s residence, where they posed her in lingerie and took photographs that they later posted online.
A second victim, age 28 at the time, had a similar experience; she said Sidney McGee recruited her outside a Boston methadone clinic.
The victims’ testimony – corroborated by text messages recovered from Tyshaun McGhee’s phone, records subpoenaed from online prostitution sources, and witness statements –proved that they were coerced into sexual activity with strangers at various locations over the course of several days. The defendants orchestrated that activity and took the money that the victims were paid. The victims also testified that both defendants raped them.
On September 22, 2012, as the defendants drove the victims back to Boston from a hotel in Peabody, the two women escaped from the vehicle and ran to Boston Medical Center, where they disclosed the abuse, triggering an investigation by the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit and the DA’s Sexual Assault Unit. Both were indicted in December 2012 and have been held on high bail since that time.