September 16, 2014

Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Child Sex Trafficking in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Eddie Allen Jackson, 31, of Grand Rapids, was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison in West Michigan’s first federal child sex trafficking case. A jury convicted Jackson in April 2014 on three counts of child sex trafficking.

From July to August 2012, Jackson recruited teenage girls ages 14, 15, and 16 in Muskegon to work for him by prostituting on the streets of Grand Rapids. He targeted vulnerable girls with troubled backgrounds, made them walk the streets for money, and took them to local hotels and semi-vacant houses to meet customers. Jackson controlled the girls through drugs, alcohol, threats, and violence. He also manipulated them by making them feel like he loved and cared about them when they felt that no one else did. The teens, whose identities are protected, were in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades at the time. In delivering the sentence today, the judge stated, “We have three young girls, who will become young women, who were significantly harmed by what he was doing” but yet Jackson “has not accepted any responsibility for this. None.” The judge remarked that the victims were “stripped of innocence and decency that these girls were entitled to have.”

“Protecting children is a top priority in our district, and those who prey on children will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am pleased local, state, and federal authorities are working together effectively to locate and stop sex traffickers,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr.

“Fighting to prevent the sexual exploitation of children is of the highest priority for local, state, and federal authorities, as reflected in the efforts of the FBI’s West Michigan-Based Child Exploitation Task Force,” stated Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “While no sentencing can ever fully repair the damage caused by crimes like this, Mr. Jackson’s punishment demonstrates the relentless fortitude of law enforcement to protect our children and bring those who prey upon them to justice.”

The federal sex trafficking laws protect children all the way to age 18 from being pimped for sex. Regular citizens—especially in schools, restaurants, convenience stores, and hotels—are in the best position to recognize when a child could be at risk of sex trafficking. While kids of every type of background can be lured into prostitution, some warning factors for child sex trafficking include:

  • recent friendship or attention between a teenager and an older adult who may drive the teen places or provide a place to stay overnight;
  • lack of organized afterschool and summer activities and supervision;
  • running away (not necessarily overnight);
  • suicidal/depressed;
  • tension and fighting at home;
  • unexplained new cash flow—including new clothing, nails, and hair styles (for girls) generally outside the teen’s financial reach;
  • new cell phone not purchased by parent/guardian;
  • checking in at a hotel with no luggage or sneaking into a hotel through a side door;
  • drug/alcohol dependency; and
  • low self-esteem.

This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office; county prosecutor’s offices; the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC); and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate communities about the dangers of online child exploitation and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement.

The FBI, in conjunction with the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX), the Grand Rapids Police Department, and the Muskegon Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tessa K. Hessmiller and Russell A. Kavalhuna prosecuted the case.