» Child trafficker sentenced:
Jason Walters is sentenced to 32 years in prison on child sex trafficking charges after forcing his 13-year-old victim to testify at trial.
A 13-year-old runaway who was forced into hundreds of sex acts with strangers during five months of captivity with her pimp was re-victimized when Jason Walters took his case to trial and forced the girl to testify, a prosecutor said at his sentencing late Thursday.
The girl, advertised as Erica online, was so upset by the prospect she threw up in a courthouse hallway after a pretrial run through, and then tried to escape the courthouse during a lunch break during trial, said Assistant District Attorney Katherine Halopka-Ivery.
Halopka-Ivery argued that Walter, 38, found guilty last month of first-degree sexual assault of a child, trafficking of a child, physical abuse of a child and false imprisonment, should get 56 years in prison. She cited his long criminal history and false testimony at trial.
Walters’ attorney, Patrick Flanagan, urged something closer to 25 years, the minimum mandatory for the sexual assault conviction. Walters again told Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Carolina Stark that he didn’t know the girl was so young or that she was being prostituted by, he suggested, someone else.
Stark went through a long list of aggravating factors in the case — the great age difference, the near continual nature of the offense, Walters’ record, the fact the girl became pregnant, his false testimony at trial about not realizing her age, and the significant, lifelong trauma the victim will face.
“That is nothing less than horrific,” Stark said of the girl’s testimony about being made to have about 20 “dates” a week.
“I’m going to call it what it is — rape,” she said. “It’s not a date or child prostitution.”
The girl had run away from a group home when she met Walters at a bus stop at N. 27th and Burleigh streets in October 2015. He offered a place to stay, gave her drugs and alcohol, raped her and then set about pimping her via online ads for the next five months.
She finally escaped when Walters was arrested and in jail on a drug charge in 2016.
Stark imposed a 32-year prison term for the child sex assault, plus 25 years for trafficking and three each for physical abuse and false imprisonment, but made the sentences concurrent. She added another 31 years of extended supervision.
At the start of the hearing, Stark made a record of speaking with both attorneys about a message found on a wall of her courtroom’s holding cell, which she assumed Walters had written while he was there during breaks in his trial.
It said, “Xavier Williams — don’t plead out, go to trial. Erica will be exposed.”
Williams, 20, is also charged with sexually assaulting the 13-year-old, and the case is also assigned to Stark.