BOSTON, Feb. 10, 2014—Two Roxbury men were sentenced today to lengthy prison terms after their convictions last week under the state’s human trafficking statute, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
TYSHAUN McGHEE (D.O.B. 10/10/80) and SIDNEY McGEE (D.O.B. 2/11/84) were convicted Feb. 6 of three counts each of trafficking a person for sexual servitude. Tyshaun McGhee was also convicted of two counts of deriving support from prostitution. The defendants are believed to be the first offenders convicted under Massachusetts’ human trafficking statute.
At their sentencing today, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer OKeeffe recommended that each defendant be sentenced to a total of 15 to 21 years in state prison. The defendants each requested sentences of no more than five years each. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Diane Kottmyer sentenced Tyshaun McGhee to a prison term of 10 to 15 years and sentenced Sidney McGee to 10 to 12 years in prison.
During today’s sentencing, OKeefe read a written statement provided by one of the victims describing the impact the crimes have had on her life.
“When I was first victimized my self-esteem and self-worth were crushed,” she wrote. “I felt hopeless and lost. I sat in shock and denial for a long time. I couldn’t handle any sort of help from a therapist or treatment facility because I didn’t want to relive this trauma.”
During the course of a five-day trial, OKeeffe presented evidence and testimony to prove that in September 2012 the two defendants coerced three drug-addicted women into prostitution with promises of money and shelter and provided the with women drugs to in order to keep control over them.
The testimony proved that the men took provocative photographs of the victims and posted them online, after which Tyshaun McGhee began to receive calls from men responding to the ads. McGhee told the women what to charge the men for sexual acts and then collected the money they received.
The defendants drove the victims to various locations where they met with men who paid them for sexual acts. On Sept. 22, 2012, as Tyshaun McGhee and Sidney McGee transported two of the victims back from such an encounter at a Peabody hotel, the women fled from the vehicle and ran to Boston Medical Center where they disclosed the abuse. That disclosure sparked an investigation by Boston Police detectives assigned to the BPD Human Trafficking and Sexual Assault units as well as Suffolk prosecutors.
The victims’ testimony was corroborated by text messages recovered from Tyshaun McGhee’s phone, records subpoenaed from online prostitution sources, and witness statements.
Massachusetts’ human trafficking statute was passed 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.
Christine Berardino was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. The defendants were represented by attorneys Michael Roitman and Lefteris Travayiakis.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.