By Rich Bockmann
A South Ozone Park man was sentenced last week to five to 10 years in prison on sex-trafficking charges, making it the fifth such conviction in Queens since the state enacted tougher laws in 2007, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.
Michael Summerville, 33, of 135-50 128th St., pleaded guilty last month to forcing a teenage runaway girl to perform sex acts for money in 2010, Brown said.
According to the district attorney, in 2010 Summerville befriended his victim, who was 14 at the time, and engaged in sexual activity with her, eventually pimping her out until she managed to return home.
In October 2010, however, the young girl, then 15, went back to a home Summerville had in Brooklyn to retrieve a cell phone and computer he had taken from her, Brown said.
Summerville took the young girl to his Queens home, where she stayed for about a month, during which time he collected earnings from her and several other girls he prostituted, the DA said. She stayed with Summerville until sometime around Oct. 31, when he turned her over to another pimp, from whom she was eventually able to escape, according to Brown.
In December 2010 the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Division tracked Summerville through the phone number he used on backpage.com to advertise his prostitutes, Brown said.
The officers set up a sting operation and recovered $360 from Summerville that was given to four females during an agreement to exchange money for sexual intercourse, the DA said.
Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media, has been the subject of criticism and a lawsuit alleging it does not do enough to prevent the promotion of juvenile prostitution.
In 2007, the state created a law that defined sex trafficking as a crime and set a maximum sentence of 25 years.
Brown said the defendants in the four other cases are all serving state prison sentences ranging from two to six years to 25 years to life. The DA said Summerville’s sentence was fitting.
“Today’s sentence is more than justified and sends a clear message to others who traffic in vulnerable and troubled teenage girls — and use them as a commodity to be sold to others for cash — will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Brown said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.