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‘He was my pimp’: Victim testifies against alleged trafficker of murdered girl

Desiree Robinson. | Provided photo

Shiane could tell the new girl was young.

“Younger than she told us she was,” she said.

Desiree Robinson claimed to be 18 years old when she showed up at Joseph Hazley’s house at 63rd and Racine early in December 2016. But to Shiane, who said she had begun working as an escort for Hazley a few months earlier, Robinson seemed 15 or 16 — especially given the way Robinson “laughed and giggled about everything.” Robinson, it turned out, was 16.

Shiane said Hazley took her in anyway. He allegedly took Robinson’s picture, marketed her on Backpage.com and sold her for sex — sending her on five or six dates a day. Meanwhile, Shiane said she taught Robinson how to text with customers, what to say, and how to get the most money out of them. She said she did so at Hazley’s request.

“Because,” Shiane testified, “at the time, he was my daddy.”

Now, Hazley is on trial in federal court for his alleged trafficking of Shiane, Robinson and a third victim. And Wednesday, Shiane faced Hazley for the first time since December 2016, the month Robinson wound up dead in a Markham garage, having been brutally murdered on Christmas Eve while on a date allegedly arranged by Hazley.

Robinson’s death became so symbolic of the national fight against Backpage that her mother, Yvonne Ambrose, stood next to President Donald Trump last year as he signed a law aimed at online sex trafficking. Backpage has been shut down and its founders are under indictment.

Antonio Rosales | Cook County sheriff’s office
Antonio Rosales | Cook County sheriff’s office

The girl’s accused killer, Antonio Rosales, is still awaiting trial in state court.

Shiane only gave her first name in court and testified under an immunity deal. She spoke frankly about working as a prostitute for Hazley in the latter half of 2016. But when questions turned to Robinson, she became emotional. Her eyes repeatedly darted toward the ceiling after she looked at photos of the girl, and at one point she pleaded with U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman for a break.

“Your honor, could I have a second please?” Shiane said as she fought back tears. “Please?”

The judge called a recess.

As she spoke to jurors about Hazley, Shiane said, “he was my pimp.” She also said, “I fell for him.” She said she didn’t begin working for him until he told her money had gotten tight. Eventually, she said he began to control almost every aspect of her life — monitoring her phone and deciding whether she could come or go. She said she couldn’t speak to other men “unless they were paying me.” And she said Hazley gave her the online nickname “Winter.”

At first, Shiane said they split the money she made evenly, but eventually she said Hazley kept it all for himself. She said she was expected to earn at least $2,000 a day.

When others joined the team, Shiane said she became jealous. First, a former high school classmate of hers began working for Hazley, and Shiane said, “he started to treat her better than he treated me.”

Later, after Robinson showed up, Shiane said, “he treated her like a girlfriend, like he did me when I first met him.” Eventually, she said, Hazley forced her to watch while he had sex with Robinson. That’s when Shiane left.

Following Robinson’s murder, Hazley allegedly reached out to Shiane, telling her, “now that she’s gone, I got no money coming in.” The feds say Hazley asked Shiane to work for him again, and a prosecutor asked her about that request Wednesday.

Shiane told jurors, “I said no.”