Nobody wins, said the mother of one of two underaged girls at the sentencing Friday of two men who pleaded guilty to prostituting the teens.
“I feel empathy towards the defendants’ families,” she said. “But what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.”
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff agreed, and sentenced Curtis Escalante, 26, and Michael Williams II, 25, to prison.
Escalante, 26, was sentenced to more than 16 1/2 years for two counts of second-degree human trafficking. Williams was sentenced to 12 1/2 years for one count of second-degree human trafficking.
A third defendant in the case, Mikael Williams, 20, the brother of Michael Williams II, was sentenced in November to three months in jail for a charge of second-degree promoting prostitution.
The two girls will not be prosecuted for prostitution because they are minors.
Both defendants apologized to the victims’ families.
“I am remorseful for all of it,” Escalante said.
Williams said, “Everybody’s life is shattered.”
The men were arrested after the mother of one of the girls called police in December 2014 when she found a prostitution ad for her daughter on the online classified website Backpage.
Before the sentencing, Escalante admitted he provided hotel rooms for prostitution, and that he expected to earn money for his actions.
At Friday’s sentencing, Williams said he didn’t know the two girls — who were 15 and 16 at the time — were underaged.
“I treated them like adults because that’s what I thought they were,” Williams said.
Both defense attorneys said the girls were accomplices and co-conspirators in the crime.
“They were not forced,” said Mike Jordan, Escalante’s attorney.
Because of this, Mary High, Williams’ lawyer, asked for a sentence below the standard range.
Deputy Prosecutor Greg Greer said the defense lawyers were blaming the girls for the crimes their clients had admitted.
In fact, Greer said, “These girls are victimized permanently.”