You’ve surely heard the term “pimping” and understand its meaning. But you may not know the meaning of a similar charge even though it is a serious crime — a charge called “compelling prostitution.”
On January 23, 2020, Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man for the crime of compelling prostitution, along with the crimes of trafficking of a child and sexual assault of a child.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Otis “Big Face Tulu” Berry turned himself in at the sheriff’s office on those charges. Berry allegedly forced underage teenage girls to have sex in exchange for food and shelter.
Court records indicate that sheriff’s deputies initially spoke to one of the victims — a runaway girl of 16 years old — in June of last year at a Walmart store.
Also, according to court records, the victims stayed at a recording studio that Otis Berry owned for four nights, where they rarely received food or water but did receive drugs. There, the victims said they were forced to have sex with Otis Berry and persons who went to the studio to buy drugs.
Court documents indicate that both Otis and his brother Tyrone Berry forced the girls to have sex. Tyrone Berry faces similar charges.
The victims said they remained at the studio under threats, but eventually were dropped off at a Walmart.
Serious punishments for compelling prostitution
All of the charges Otis Berry faces are serious — and can bring serious punishments.
A charge of compelling prostitution of a minor in Texas is a first degree felony. It can include punishments of a state prison sentence of 5 to 99 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Even when the victims are adults, a charge of compelling prostitution by an adult can bring severe punishments. As a second degree felony, such a charge can lead to penalties including a sentence of 2 to 20 years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Serious punishments for sexual assault of a child
The Texas Penal Code specifies that a charge of sexual assault of a child is a second degree felony. It can bring a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years and a fine of as much as $10,000.
Under Texas law, a child or “minor” is anyone under the age of 18.
Serious punishments for human trafficking of a child
As for human trafficking of a child, that crime involves the recruitment, harboring, transporting or procuring of a child for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude.
According to Texas human trafficking laws, the penalties for human trafficking of a child are the most severe, including a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence in prison.
Lawmakers are ‘tough on crime’ with child sex offenders
As you can see, Texas punishments for sex crimes are especially high when the crime involves a child. Such child sex crimes are an area where lawmakers are ardently intent on being tough on crime.
But such toughness isn’t always warranted.
Not everyone who’s accused of a child sex crime is guilty. Sometimes false claims are made as leverage in a divorce or custody proceeding.
Every American deserves legal protection during his or her day in court. If you or a loved one faces a sex crime charge in Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, contact an experienced and knowledgeable sex crime defense lawyer at the Neal Davis Law Firm for a legal review of your case.