19-year-old man sentenced for promoting teen prostitution
Seattle gang member DeShawn "Cash Money" Clark was sentenced Friday to 17 years in prison for human trafficking and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor.
Seattle Times staff reporter
DeShawn "Cash Money" Clark apologized Friday to the teenage girls he pimped out, and was handed a 17-year prison sentence.
Despite his apology and acknowledgment of his crimes, his defense attorney announced that an appeal had already been filed seeking to overturn Clark's conviction.
A defendant has 30 days from sentencing to file an appeal, but Clark's defense attorney, Alfoster Garrett Jr., said Friday that Clark and his family want to fast-track the process.
During his trial last year, Clark, 19, denied any wrongdoing, depicting himself as a naive teen who was being prosecuted simply for associating with other pimps and gang members, including his older brother.
The tough, seemingly indifferent demeanor Clark adopted throughout his trial dissolved as he stood subdued before Superior Court Judge Douglass North on Friday.
"I take responsibility for my actions and reactions. I apologize to the women in this case, their families and my family," Clark said. "I ask you to show leniency."
Clark became the first person in the state convicted of human trafficking when a King County jury convicted him in November on six of the nine charges he faced.
A member of the West Side Street Mobb, Clark was found guilty of second-degree human trafficking, first-degree promoting prostitution, two counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor, unlawful imprisonment and conspiracy to promote prostitution.
On the conspiracy charge, the jury also found in favor of a "gang aggravator," the first time a 2008 law was successfully used to give a gang member an enhanced sentence.
Four other members and an associate of the West Side Street Mobb pleaded guilty to a variety of prostitution-related charges last year and were given sentences ranging from 21 months to nine years.
On Wednesday, a different jury found another member of the gang, Roosevelt "City Red" Johnson Jr., guilty of trying to lure two undercover Seattle police officers into prostitution last summer.
Next week, jury selection is expected to begin for two more alleged members of the gang: Donta Walters and Gamada Abdullahi are each charged with one count of promoting commercial sex abuse of a minor.
The arrests — a result of a collaborative investigation by Seattle police, King County sheriff's detectives and the FBI — have effectively dismantled the West Side Street Mobb, a gang that began in 2006 around the Delridge Community Center.
On Friday, Garrett tried to persuade North to give Clark a reduced sentence, arguing Clark's three victims were "willing participants" in prostitution. Garrett also argued that Clark was unable to understand what he did was wrong because of his youth.
Clark is "a product of his environment," the son of a drug-addicted mother and a father who was sent to prison when Clark was 4, Garrett said.
"Mr. Clark's intellect and knowledge was all gained from the street," Garrett said. "You have a young man with a number of impediments to his growth and maturity ... If given the opportunity, I think he would definitely change his ways."
Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell fired back that Clark preyed on the young women and then tried to intimidate witnesses involved in his prosecution.
Judge North shot down Garrett's arguments. He disagreed that the young prostitutes were willing participants, likening them to domestic-violence victims who can simultaneously love and fear their abusers.
"That same complex relationship exists between a pimp and a prostitute," North said.
North sentenced Clark to nearly 15 1/2 years in prison and then added an additional 20 months to his sentence for the gang aggravator.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.