By Rich Bockmann
The borough’s top prosecutor said his office has locked up a dozen criminals since the state created tougher sex-trafficking laws after a Queens Village man pleaded guilty Monday to forcing a 15-year-old girl into sex work last year.
Christopher Whitfield, 25, is facing up to nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty to pimping out the teenage runaway for more than three weeks in March 2012, District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday.
“By pleading guilty, the defendant admitted forcing a vulnerable young girl to work as a sex slave for his financial gain,” the DA said. “His guilty plea not only ensures that he is held accountable for his actions and allows the troubled young victim in the case to move on with her life but sends a clear message that crimes such as these will not be tolerated in Queens County.”
Numerous men responded to the prostitution ads that Whitfield posted on the classified-listing website backpage.com, Brown said, and he intimidated his young victim by threatening to beat her, burning her with cigarettes and a heated razor and on two occasions raping her.
The young girl was able to escape when Whitfield left her alone, Brown said.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron is expected to sentence Whitfield to three to nine years in prison Aug. 12, Brown said.
The charge Whitfield pleaded to, sex trafficking, was created by Albany in 2007 as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s human trafficking laws.
It criminalizes a wider range of coercive activities, such as accusing someone of a crime in order to compel them into prostitution.
In June, a St. Albans couple was sentenced after pleading guilty to pimping two young women in a foreclosed home they were staying in.
Brown said his office has convicted 12 defendants of sex trafficking charges since the statute was enacted Nov. 1, 2012, with sentences ranging from four to 12 years for pimps and one to three years for accomplices.
The DA’s office said the young girl is receiving social services, adding that she has had contact with the criminal justice system previously and has not returned to her family.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.