Ohio Man Sentenced to 22 Years in Federal Prison for Bringing Minors to Chicago from Iowa to Engage in Prostitution
CHICAGO — An Ohio man was sentenced today to 22 years in federal prison for his role in a sex trafficking ring involving minor girls who were brought to Chicago from Iowa to engage in prostitution.
WILLIE WOODS, 46, of Toledo, Ohio, helped transport the minor girls from Iowa City in 2012. Once in Chicago, Woods and his co-conspirators forced the girls to engage in prostitution. At the time, one victim was 14 years old, one victim was 16 years old, and one victim was 17 years old.
A jury last year convicted Woods on 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.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman imposed the 264-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.
Woods “humiliated these girls, robbed them of their childhood and their innocence, and set them off on a path of self-destructive behavior,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany K. Biesenthal argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “The girls will never be able to fully recover from the pain defendant inflicted.”
Woods is one of three defendants convicted in the case. MALIK MCKEE and his sister, SHUNTINA MCKEE, both of Iowa City, previously pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking conspiracy. Judge Coleman in 2014 sentenced Malik McKee to 102 months in prison, plus restitution of $6,000. Shuntina McKee is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Coleman on May 31, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
Evidence at Woods’ seven-day trial revealed that the defendants forced the minor girls to engage in prostitution in Iowa and Chicago. The defendants took photographs of the minors and used them in advertisements on websites, including Backpage.com. When individuals responded to the advertisement, the defendants arranged the meeting and then pocketed the proceeds.
The three minor girls testified at trial about their ordeals. The girls described the defendants’ violent and abusive acts, which included using power and coercion to force the girls to perform sex acts for money. One of the girls testified that Woods starved her by withholding food until she submitted to his demands to engage in prostitution.
The conviction was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Eddie T. Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The FBI and Chicago Police conducted the investigation in coordination with the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force. Federal law enforcement authorities in the Southern District of Iowa and the Northern District of Ohio, as well as the Iowa State Police, assisted in the case.
The government is represented by Ms. Biesenthal and Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Cunniff Church.