A Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in federal prison for sexually abusing teenaged girls and transporting them from Wisconsin to Cedar Rapids to work as prostitutes.
Robert Jackson, 32, of Milwaukee, Wisc., pleaded guilty last November to one count of transporting minors across state lines with the intent they engage in prostitution. He was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.
During the plea hearing, Jackson admitted he transported two teens, referred to in court documents as K.R. and C.W., both of Milwaukee, to Cedar Rapids, July 16, 2013 for prostitution. The girls were 15 and 17 years of age.
According to evidence during the sentencing, Jackson threatened to kill the 15 year-old girl and her family if she attempted to leave him. When both girls left him one time, Jackson beat the 15 year-old with a belt and sexually assaulted her, and then he beat the 17-year-old with his fists, causing injury to her face.
Jackson made both girls engage in prostitution in Milwaukee and Iowa, and kept the money they earned, according to evidence. He coerced the girls with threats and forced both of them to travel to Iowa for purposes of prostitution. Later, he bragged to inmates about how he sexually assaulted the girls to control them.
"This defendant preyed on vulnerable young girls and exploited them for prostitution," U.S. Attorney Kevin Techau said. “The underground nature of human trafficking makes it hard to fight and it can be especially dangerous for young people and disadvantaged kids in both big cities and rural areas. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate human trafficking, as well as working with our local non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organizations to identify, rescue and assist victims of trafficking.”
The federal charges stemmed from a prostitution sting in Hills which was part of an ongoing effort to target human trafficking in Johnson and Linn counties. Johnson County was assisted by the Iowa City, Coralville, University of Iowa and Marion police departments, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation were involved in the sting.
According to criminal complaints regarding the sting operation, a deputy responded to a known prostitution website and set up an appointment in Hills. After Jackson was arrested, two of the girls, who told police they were ages 21 and 15, identified Jackson as their pimp. They told police all the money they made went to Jackson.
Other charges Jackson faced, including sex trafficking children by force, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.