More Than a Dozen Warrants Served in Seattle Sexual Exploitation Investigation

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Apr 11

Lewis & Laws

More Than a Dozen Warrants Served in Seattle Sexual Exploitation Investigation

by Lewis & Laws

More Than a Dozen Warrants Served in Seattle Sexual Exploitation Investigation

The Seattle Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security recently served more than a dozen warrants in the Seattle area following a three-and-a-half-year sexual exploitation investigation.

The investigation targeted massage parlors and spas which were sexually exploiting victims from the U.S. as well as foreign countries. Multiple suspects were identified who were exploiting female victims, forcing them to engage in sexual acts for business profits.

The victims in the sexual exploitation cases were reportedly from China. They were “lured” to Seattle with promises of large amounts of money for legitimate work, only to find themselves being forced into prostitution.

There were six arrests, with charges not only of sexual exploitation, but money laundering as well. Police said significant amounts of cash and firearms were recovered. Twenty-six women who had been forced into prostitution—and whose movements were also monitored and/or restricted—were also recovered. The female victims were placed with local service providers and assisted with living arrangements, medical attention, food and transportation. 

What is Sexual Exploitation?

In the city of Seattle, what is now called "sexual exploitation" was called "patronizing a prostitute" in prior city ordinances. Sexual exploitation in the city of Seattle is considered a non-violent misdemeanor, although when the term was changed, the Seattle City Attorney's Office acknowledged that many women were threatened or otherwise coerced into prostitution, which seems to bring at least an element of violence into the crime.

The city of Seattle says the new language indicates the city's commitment to hold those who create a demand for prostitution accountable—and keep the exploiters who make the profits in business.

While the motives are admirable, the phrasing can be misconstrued and may even be misleading. One local attorney noted the term "sexual exploitation” made it sound like “you’ve got a woman in a cage in the basement,” also adding that “it sounds like a felony.”

Penalties Associated with a Conviction for Sexual Exploitation in Seattle

To find a person guilty of sexual exploitation, it must be shown that he or she had a prior understanding to pay money to another person or a third party as compensation for sexual conduct, that he or she agreed to pay a fee prior to engaging in sexual activity, or that he or she solicited another person to engage in sexual conduct in return for money. While sexual conduct could be sexual intercourse, it can refer to virtually any type of sexual activity requested.

If convicted of sexual exploitation in Seattle, you could face up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine as large as $1,000. Further, in the city of Seattle, those convicted of sexual exploitation are required to provide a DNA sample for analysis—and to pay $100 for that analysis. Unless you currently live or work in the city of Seattle, you could be required to remain outside the city in the future, and you could also have to complete a court-ordered sex crime program.

Why You Need an Experienced Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney When Charged with Sexual Exploitation

A conviction of sexual exploitation can have long term repercussions, despite the fact the crime is considered a misdemeanor. Under Washington law, prostitution and patronizing a prostitute are not defined as sex offenses, therefore so long as the person hired or solicited was over the age of 18 there is no requirement for sex offender registration. Promoting prostitution, however, is a Class C felony, which can require sex offender registration.

Even if you are not required to register as a sex offender, a conviction for sexual exploitation could certainly make it difficult for you to find employment in the future, or to keep the job you have now. Spending time in jail can also have a detrimental effect on your employment as well as on your personal life.

Having a knowledgeable Seattle criminal defense attorney by your side can ensure you are aggressively defended against the charges and that your attorney will work hard to minimize the impact of sexual exploitation charges on your life and your future.

Getting Help From Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you have been arrested and charged with a sex crime, in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, your freedom and your future are in jeopardy. Contact an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer immediately to begin building a swift and formidable defense against these grave charges. The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC  have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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