A 28-year-old Orange County woman was convicted Thursday of recruiting a 14-year-old out-of-state runaway to work as a prostitute.
Prosecutors said it is the county’s first case of human trafficking of a minor since Proposition 35 was approved by California voters last year, authorities said.
Cierra Melissa Robinson, 28, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor and pandering of a minor under 16 by procuring, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Robinson faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in state prison at her sentencing, which is set for August, prosecutors said.
Robinson’s alleged pimp, Chuncey Tarae Garcia, 33, is charged with one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor by force or fear, pimping a minor and forcible rape with sentencing enhancements for the forcible rape of a minor under 14, prosecutors said.
His previous convictions of possession of cocaine for sale in 2007 and transporting cocaine in 2009 would be considered in his sentencing, if convicted; he would face a maximum sentence of 28 years to life in state prison, according to prosecutors.
In February 2013, prosecutors said that a 14-year-old girl living in another state ran away. Robinson, prosecutors said, befriended the girl and later introduced her to Garcia, her pimp. She took the girl to a hotel room under the pretense of offering her an opportunity to make money.
At the hotel, Garcia allegedly told the girl that she would be his prostitute, and told Robinson to buy her a cellphone and post sexually explicit advertisements of the girl online.
Two days later, prosecutors said Garcia brought the girl, along with Robinson and another woman, into Orange County. The girl was taken to Buena Park, where she walked down a street in a high-prostitution area looking for customers, prosecutors said. Sexually suggestive ads of the girl were also featured on prostitution websites.
Prosecutors said Garcia forced the girl to have sex with random men and collected the money she received from them, setting a quota for how much she had to earn in a day. If she didn’t meet the quota, prosecutors said, Garcia would withhold meals.
Prosecutors also said that Garcia raped the girl after her first day as a prostitute. Prosecutors described the girl as “vulnerable, isolated and scared” of Garcia, who had been violent toward her and other women.
Prosecutors said that Robinson -- one of Garcia’s higher-ranking prostitutes -- was responsible for instructing her on how much to charge for various sex acts, dress code, assigned seats in the car and how to address Garcia (“Daddy” or “Sir”).
In the early morning hours of March 1, prosecutors said Garcia and Robinson were driving with the girl and another woman in Garden Grove when they were pulled over by police in what was described as a routine traffic stop for a broken headlight. Prosecutors said the officer became suspicious because the girl looked “extremely young” and because they were in an area known for its dense prostitution traffic.
After police were able to identify the girl as both a missing person and victim of human trafficking, she was taken into protective custody, prosecutors said. Garcia and Robinson were both arrested at the scene.
Proposition 35, a measure approved last year by California voters, stiffens penalties in crimes related to human trafficking.