MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Two Prattville men were sentenced Thursday to a combined 420 months for running a sex trafficking operation involving a minor in Montgomery, marking the first adjudicated human trafficking case prosecuted in Alabama's Middle District.
The teen victim was sold for sex out of a Montgomery motel.
Defendant Joshua Rose pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a minor and testified as a government witness against Michael Lowe, who was convicted by a federal jury.
Court documents indicate Rose and Lowe listed the minor victim online for sex, trafficked her out of a Montgomery motel, and transported her to another location for commercial sex. The profits were used to by illegal drugs.
Prior to the judge handing down a sentence, Rose apologized to the Court, stating if he was in his right mind he would have done things differently.
The minor victim in this case appeared in court, and made a statement stating Rose engaged in physical and emotional torture treating her cruelly in every respect. The victim's mother also spoke before the Court, stating Rose controlled her daughter's every move including when she could eat, sleep, talk, and see her family. She told the Court Rose threatened to kill her and her family, and she was concerned Rose would come for her daughter as soon as he was out of prison.
A prosecutor read a written statement from another victim who moved away from the area to seek safety and start a new life. The letter stated, "He held me hostage and forced me to do things I will regret the rest of my life."
The victim impact statements for Rose were so difficult, the judge sentenced him to more time than requested by the government.
Lowe also apologized to the court, stating he wished he could go back and change what happened.
The judge called the conduct in this case reprehensible. Lowe was sentenced to 220 months, Rose was sentenced to 200 months. Both are ordered to register as sex offenders. Lowe plans to appeal the sentence.
"There is no place in our community for those who prey on children," stated U.S. Attorney Franklin. "I hope that these sentences send a clear message that exploiting and prostituting a child will not be tolerated. I am grateful for the hard work of everyone involved in this case, but I would like to extend a special thank you to the Prattville Police Department, who initiated this investigation. I pledge that my office will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to bring predators like these to justice."
The Prattville Police Department developed this case, and aided in the federal investigation. Chief Mark Thompson said he's thankful to see a resolution in this case.
"The Prattville Police Department is grateful for the relationship we have with the U.S Attorney's Office and all the agencies involved in this case," stated Thompson. "These sentences should send a strong message to anyone committing these types of crimes that we will work hard to find you and send you to prison. We are very proud of our Criminal Intelligent Unit for the effort they put into this case. It shows that Prattville PD is very proactive and we will continue to develop better ways to combat crime."
The two sentences add up to equal 35 years.