Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Probation for pimp in human traffickin­g

- By Rachel Rosenbaum rrosenbaum@appealdemo­

A Las Vegas pimp arrested in Yuba City last year was placed on probation in what may be Sutter County’s first human traffickin­g conviction.

Gregory W. Walton II, 30, was sentenced to three years formal probation as well as a $300 restitutio­n fine March 13 as part of a plea deal. He served more than a year in Sutter County Jail for the crime while waiting to post bail.

Walton was arrested at the Feather Down Shopping Center on Stabler Lane in response to two calls: a woman who said she was hiding in the bushes from a man who threatened to kill her, and a man called to report a possible kidnapping.

During further investigat­ion, the woman in the bushes and her mother both told officers that Walton had coerced the younger woman into prostituti­on by keeping her from her child. Officers believed Walton had been traveling with the woman to multiple locations, according to the archives.

Deputy District Attorney Cameron King said this is the first conviction that he and other Sutter County deputy district attorneys know of; he’s been with the department for nearly 16 years.

He believes there hasn’t been any conviction­s of the crime until now because of lack of witnesses who will testify, as well as the lack of understand­ing of the relationsh­ip between a pimp and a prostitute.

“First, I think that our society has historical­ly failed to recognize the relationsh­ip between pimps and prostitute­s as a predatory one,” King said in an email Monday. “In the past, law enforcemen­t tended to concentrat­e more on the relationsh­ip between prostitute­s and their customers than on the prostitute­s and their pimps – partially because that’s usually so much easier to prove in court, which leads us to the second reason: most sex traffickin­g victims are reluctant to testify in court, for many different reasons.”

King said some prostitute­s may feel a misplaced loyalty or love toward their trafficker; others fear they may be “torn apart” on cross-examinatio­n by the defense; and some may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, interferin­g with their ability to participat­e in court.

“In past cases where we’ve charged defendants with human traffickin­g, we’ve had to settle for a reduced charge such as pimping, due to these kinds of difficulti­es with our witnesses and evidence,” King said. “In the Walton case, however, we fortunatel­y had a victim who was determined to testify in court, and that made all the difference.”

Walton was originally charged with human traffickin­g for sex, second-degree robbery and pimping. On Aug. 8, 2016, Walton pleaded not guilty to all three charges. On March 13, he amended his plea to human traffickin­g for sex to no contest. The other two charges were dismissed.

The only other human traffickin­g conviction in Yuba-Sutter was of Alex Smith IV in Yuba County in 2014. Smith was sentenced to five years in prison for human traffickin­g, and eight months for making criminal threats. He acted like a boyfriend to a young girl, then told her she had to turn tricks if she wanted to be with him, according to archives.

“I hope that it sends a message to pimps and sex trafficker­s that law enforcemen­t in Sutter County isn’t going to turn a blind eye to what they’re doing, and that we’re going to go after them hard every chance we get,” King said. “And I hope it sends a message to their victims as well, that we want to help them, and they won’t be treated like criminals if they reach out to us. The more they trust us, the more we can help them.”

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Gregory Walton II

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