Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the first federal prosecution of a buyer of juvenile sex in the Los Angeles area.
Charles Goswitz, a 59-year-old man from Torrance, Calif. was sentenced on Tuesday to 57 months in federal prison for obstructing a sex-trafficking probe after he purchased commercial sex from a 16-year-old trafficking victim. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Long Beach Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
“It should be shocking to the public that criminals who buy underage girls for sex are almost never prosecuted. Federal prosecutors must pursue more of these cases. Too often, these individuals are given a slap on the wrist under state laws—a misdemeanor citation.
“This is unacceptable. Sex trafficking victims face unspeakable horrors, and many of them are as young as 12 or 13 years old. Many buyers are fully aware that these victims are underage and being held against their will.
“The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, signed into law in May, removes barriers to federal prosecutions of individuals who buy trafficking victims. U.S. Attorneys across the country should use these new tools to bring cases against these abusers.
“Sheriff McDonnell and I in August convened a meeting on sex trafficking and discussed the need to arrest and prosecute buyers and traffickers. This case featured cooperation between law enforcement and U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker, and I hope it serves as a model going forward.”
Feinstein also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker to congratulate her office on the case. Text of the letter follows:
October 30, 2015
The Honorable Eileen Decker
Central District of California
312 North Spring Street, Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dear U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker:
I write to congratulate you for obtaining the lengthy sentence for the 59-year-old sex offender who hired a young teenager for commercial sex after meeting her online. I would like to commend your office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office, and the Long Beach Police Department, for successfully investigating and prosecuting the case.
Human trafficking has grown to a $150 billion industry, the second-largest criminal enterprise after drugs. As HSI Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold stated in the press release: “Those who pay for sex with minors are contributing in no small way to the current epidemic of teen and child sex-trafficking. The clients in these cases are, for all intents and purposes, as culpable as the actual traffickers.”
As you may know, President Obama recently signed into law a major bipartisan anti-trafficking bill—the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The law includes an important provision to reduce the demand for sex trafficking by clarifying that buyers of commercial sex from trafficking victims can be federally prosecuted.
Specifically, the new law adds the words “patronizes” and “solicits” to Section 1591 of Title 18 of the United States Code. This means that whoever knowingly patronizes or solicits a trafficking victim is guilty of a federal felony offense, including if the perpetrator knows or recklessly disregards that the victim is a minor and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.
I would urge your office and federal prosecutors throughout the country to make aggressive use of this statute and other authorities to go after those who fuel the demand for this horrific crime.
Again, I congratulate your office for bringing this case, and my strong hope is that it serves as a model for other U.S. attorneys. As you said, “The significant sentence the defendant received in this case should serve as a warning to adults who engage in this type of criminal conduct. Although this case is the first case of its kind in this district, it will not be the last.”
Directing the focus of federal prosecutors and agents toward these cases is a top priority of mine, and I want to thank you again for pursuing this case. Please also extend my thanks to the agents and prosecutors who worked on this case.
United States Senator