On March 29, 2012, a 35-page arrest warrant was unsealed by New Britain Superior Court in Connecticut. The details of this one case reveal much about how the world of human trafficking is alive and well in every community across America . . . and why those guilty of these crimes rarely see appropriate justice.
According to court documents, several witnesses told Connecticut State Police investigators that their fellow State Police Trooper, Pearl Kelly-Paris, actively ran a human trafficking operation with her husband, Jaykuan Paris. Jaykuan is the brother of Dennis Paris, a Connecticut man who is currently serving a 30-year federal prison sentence for “sex trafficking of a minor” among several other human trafficking crimes. That case is the subject of my recent book, “The Berlin Turnpike: A True Story of Human Trafficking in America.”
Together, Jaykuan and Pearl operated the illegal business out of their New Britain, Connecticut home and through a local phone service. Similar to the extensive investigation which led to the previous arrest and conviction of his brother, Dennis, State police were able to trace information confirming the illegal activity by tapping Jaykuan Paris’ cell phones and land lines. This most recent investigation began after federal investigators found information that Jaykuan and Pearl were arranging “for the prostitution of several females, in some cases by means of force, fraud and/or coercion” – the legal definition of human trafficking - and that they regularly advertised in the “escort” section of several websites including Backpage.com.
Indeed, along with his wife, Jaykuan Paris was a pimp for several women in Connecticut. The words of the witnesses/victims in these statements clearly expose the truth behind the abuse women suffer from the tyrannical behavior of their violent pimps. According to the victims under his control Jaykuan would regularly “beat his women” if they received “bad reviews” on “escort” service websites. The users of these sites, often men who refer to themselves as “hobbyists,” readily “chat” about and “rate” the women whose sexual services they have paid for.
Another witness/victim told police that while Pearl was on active-duty as a Connecticut State Trooper she arrived at a motel in Rocky Hill, Connecticut - in uniform and driving her State Police cruiser - and handed a digital camera to her husband, Mr. Paris. He then proceeded to photograph the witness/victim, his wife, Pearl - the Trooper - and another woman. All three women, including the State Trooper, wore black lingerie and face masks for the photographs. He then posted the photos throughout online “escort” advertisements in Backpage.com. The “escort” ads would then generate calls from men looking to pay for sex.
Even though the two-year State and Federal investigation proved that both Jaykuan Paris and Pearl Kelly-Parris were in clear violation of human trafficking crimes as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), neither have been charged accordingly.
Jaykuan was arrested in November, 2011 and charged by the State of Connecticut only with second-degree promoting prostitution. He pleaded No Contest and will serve less than four years in prison. Pearl was arrested in May, 2012 and charged by the State of Connecticut with second-degree promoting prostitution and second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution. She has pleaded not guilty to each of these crimes. Her trial date has been postponed several times and has not yet taken place.
Since both were guilty of the same crimes, why did one brother, Dennis Paris, receive a Federal Human Trafficking conviction, along with a 30-year sentence, while the other brother, Jaykuan, was allowed to plead No Contest to far less serious State charges – even though Jaykuan used far more violence against his victims than Dennis?
The answer points to drastic and dangerous inconsistencies in the enforcement of State Human Trafficking laws throughout the United States. Many of these laws are less than ten years old. And most have not yet been tested in court due to prosecutorial cowardice. Quite simply, no State Prosecutor wants to be the first to try someone under a new law, no matter how clear the violation. The risk to their career as a prosecutor, should the case be thrown out on some technicality, turned over on appeal, or worse, outright lost to the defense, is too great. No one wants to be the first person to mess up a State Human Trafficking trial.
The consequence is that State Prosecutors simply reduce the charges to some lesser crime – like “promoting prostitution” – with which they are more familiar and are almost guaranteed a conviction.
“We tried for more, but this is all they would do,” explained a Connecticut State Police Spokesperson when I asked him about the comparatively minor charges against Jaykuan and Pearl. He was talking about the evidence the State Police had and the limited charges with which the Connecticut State Prosecutors returned.
The current situation is this: Federal prosecutors simply do not have the financial or human resources to convict every crime that is presented to them, even though their own investigators (FBI, IRS, ICE, etc.) have overwhelming evidence. Using a criteria they will never publicly admit, they prioritize the cases into which they will to pour their time, talent and treasure. The rest they offer back to the States where the crimes took place. It’s then up to the individual States to decide whether or not to prosecute and what laws to use to get a conviction.
Since Human Trafficking laws are relatively new and virtually untested, serious crimes that are clearly in violation of Federal Law are reduced to relatively minor charges . . . and therefore become easy convictions for prosecutors.
It is a dilemma that leaves victims with no real justice. The solution is to first recognize that this perceived high-professional-risk situation exists for prosecutors. Then, State Legislatures must provide more viable prosecutorial tools for human trafficking laws to be used. This means that legislators will have to listen to prosecutors and pass laws that will allow human traffickers to be convicted of human trafficking crimes.
Currently, the Connecticut State Legislature is considering two bills which would not only help victims of human trafficking, but also give them incentives to become active – and protected – witnesses against their former pimps. One law promises financial restitution to victims. The other expunges the “prostitution” criminal record of anyone who is identified as a human trafficking victim. The combination of these two laws would begin to build the arsenal for state prosecutors who sincerely want justice done.
If these laws had been in place two years ago, perhaps Jaykuan and Dennis would be sharing a cell in Federal prison today.