An Ohio man has been convicted for his role in a sex trafficking ring that brought teenage girls from Iowa to Chicago and forced them into prostitution.
A federal jury found 44-year-old Willie Woods of Toledo, Ohio, guilty of one count of sex trafficking conspiracy; three counts of sex trafficking of minors by force, fraud or coercion; one count of transporting minors to engage in prostitution; and one count of obstruction of justice, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Woods helped transport a 14-year-old girl and two 16-year-old girls from Iowa City to Chicago in 2012, a statement from federal prosecutors said. When they arrived in Chicago, he and his co-conspirators forced the girls to engage in prostitution.
Woods’ co-conspirators in the case, Malik McKee and his sister, Shuntina McKee, previously pleaded guilty to one count each of sex trafficking conspiracy, prosecutors said.
The three forced the victims to work as prostitutes in both Iowa and Chicago, and took pictures of them to use in advertisements on websites such as Backpage, prosecutors said. When “dates” responded to ads, the traffickers would arrange meetings with the girls and keep the money.
The three victims testified at Woods’ trial, describing the use of violence, abuse and coercion to force them to perform sex acts for money, prosecutors said. One of the girls said Woods withheld food to starve her until she would submit to his demands.
The sex trafficking counts are punishable by a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison, while the transportation count carries a minimum sentence of 10 years to life, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman will schedule a sentencing hearing for Woods at a later date.
Malik McKee was sentenced to 102 months in prison and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution, prosecutors said. Shuntina McKee is awaiting sentencing.