ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —
A federal judge on Thursday handed down three sentences in what she called the worst case she’s seen in 23 years.
Three alleged gang members were accused of prostituting a 14-year-old Orange County teenager.
Investigators said the girl was forced to walk alone at night on Orange Blossom Trail while the suspects watched her from motel balconies.
The victim said she was given the code word “pineapple” to use if she were in trouble.
She confronted her accused sex traffickers in court before they were sent to prison on Thursday.
The 14-year-old described in court how she was a runaway and addicted to the drug Ecstasy, also known as Molly.
She said she has flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
“These kinds of incidents—they’re all bad, but this one was very heinous,” said Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force Chairman, Tomas Lares.
Lares said the girl’s testimony helped lead to the sentences.
Ashley Barnett, a known prostitute and the girl’s first pimp, will serve 10 years in prison.
Jose Carmona will serve 12 ½ years on charges that he lured the girl back to the group through Facebook when she tried to leave.
“He had become employed, was supporting his girlfriend, his family. It’s a harsh lesson to him to have learned, and certainly he’s going to pay a penalty,” said attorney Ernie Chang.
Xavier Villanueva, the accused ringleader of the gang, will spend nearly 20 years behind bars.
Villanueva’s wife gave a statement on his behalf in court, claiming that he was a good father.
The judge said it was the worst case she’s seen in 23 years, but also said Barnett was a victim of society as well, which is why she received the lowest sentence.
“Many of them have had very dysfunctional histories. That doesn’t justify anything,” Lares said.
Barnett was described as the girl’s first pimp even though she was the one who groomed the girl to be sold for sex.