BOSTON, Feb. 7, 2014—Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today announced the convictions of two Roxbury men for exploiting women under the state’s human trafficking laws, passed just months before the victims were recruited into sexual activity from which the defendants profited.
A Suffolk Superior Court jury late yesterday convicted TYSHAUN McGHEE (D.O.B. 10/10/80) and SIDNEY McGEE (D.O.B. 2/11/84) of three counts each of trafficking a person for sexual servitude. Tyshaun McGhee was further convicted of two counts of deriving support from prostitution. Both men were acquitted of additional counts of aggravated rape.
Both men face up to 20 years in state prison when they are sentenced next week.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer OKeeffe introduced evidence and testimony during the five-day trial proving that the two men, who are not related, recruited drug-addicted women in September 2012, plied them with narcotics and promises of wealth, and then coerced them into sexual activity with men who responded to the defendants’ online advertisements. The defendants kept the money for themselves.
“This was anything but a victimless crime,” Conley said. “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. Her testimony further established that 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, testified that Sidney McGee approached her outside a Boston methadone clinic and brought her to Tyshaun McGhee’s residence, as well. As with the other victim, the defendants posed her in suggestive photographs and posted them in ads online.
Both victims were brought at various times to the Eustis Street residence owned by FARD AHMED (D.O.B. 1/3/38), who is also currently charged with human trafficking for allegedly allowing his property to be used for rampant prostitution in exchange for cash payoffs.
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.
Christine Berardino was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. The defendants were represented by attorneys Michael Roitman and Lefteris Travayiakis. They will be sentenced Monday at 11:00 a.m. in courtroom 906.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.