United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Devin L. Ashford, 33, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was sentenced today after being found guilty by a jury of Sex Trafficking of a Minor; Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion; Production of Child Pornography; and Interstate Transportation for Prostitution. Chief United States District Judge John M. Gerrard sentenced Ashford to 564 months (47 years) in federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system. After his release from prison, Ashford will begin a 10-year term of supervised release.
When pronouncing sentence, Chief Judge Gerrard noted that he was particularly concerned with deterrence in this case, both specific deterrence to Ashford and general deterrence, stating, “For those thinking that pimping is a lifestyle, there will be a cost for doing business.” Here that cost was forty-seven years in federal prison. Chief Judge Gerrard also specifically recognized the powerful testimony of the victims at trial, which he found to be “compelling” and “horrendous” accounts of their experiences as sex trafficking victims.
Numerous victims testified at trial that Ashford beat, starved, and pushed cocaine on them to get them to provide sexual services. Ashford recruited minors to engage in commercial sex acts so that he could get the financial proceeds from those acts. The evidence at trial showed that at least three of the minors were children who had either run away from home or were in the foster care system when Ashford targeted them for his trafficking operation. Ashford was also convicted of producing child pornography when he enticed one of his victims to send sexually explicit photos of herself.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lincoln Police Department.