Queens couple indicted for sex trafficking teenage girl: DA

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A Queens couple was indicted by a grand jury for the sex trafficking of a teenage girl, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Jamael “Tiny Biz” Whittingham, 32, and Shanea “China” James were arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on June 17 on charges of sex trafficking of a child, promoting prostitution and other crimes after they allegedly arranged for strangers to have sex with the 16-year-old victim in Queens, New Jersey and North Carolina throughout November 2020.

Despite promising the teenager that she would earn large sums of money, the defendants kept the money for themselves, according to Katz.

As alleged, James met the 16-year-old girl in early November 2020 and promised she could make a lot of money if they worked as a team with Whittingham. James bought the teen clothes, shoes and a phone and arranged for the girl to meet with customers in New Jersey for sex in exchange for cash. Around Nov. 16, James allegedly took the girl to the JFK Hotel in Jamaica and booked a room to use for sexual encounters.

According to the charges, the victim, who was urged to earn no less than $500 a day, had sex with strangers for cash that she turned over to James. She was repeatedly told that she had to make more money and if she resisted the pair refused to give her food.

Around Nov. 25, per the charges, the teen was taken to North Carolina by the defendants, and made to work in motels there. After several days, she told the defendants she no longer wanted to prostitute herself, but they allegedly replied that she owed them money and had to continue. She was eventually brought back and dropped off on a street in East New York, Brooklyn.

Wittingham was arrested on June 15, 2021, after he was found in a Queens hotel, according to the DA, and was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone on an eight-count indictment charging them with sex trafficking of a child, sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

James became aware of a warrant for her arrest and fled the jurisdiction. She was found in Annapolis, Maryland where she was taken into custody. She waived extradition and was returned to Queens where she was arraigned on the same indictment before Justice Vallone.

“As alleged, the two defendants is this case used a teenager below the age of consent to enrich themselves by pushing her to earn at least $500 a day having sex with strangers,” Katz said. “The female defendant has been transported back to New York after fleeing the state and the male defendant was recently apprehended here in Queens. Sadly, this is yet another example of why I created a Human Trafficking Bureau when I became DA.”

Justice Vallone set the return date for both defendants on July 21. If convicted, Willingham and James each face up to 25 years in prison.