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Child Sex-Trafficking Victim Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Child Sex-Trafficking

Hope Zeferjohn's role was limited to chatting with the "victim"—who was never actually trafficked—on Facebook.

mugshot/Shawnee Countymugshot/Shawnee CountyA Kansas teen who messaged a friend about getting into prostitution with her was sentenced to 71 months in prison for aggravated human trafficking of a minor—even though the girl herself was a minor at the time and operating under the influence of a coercive and violent older man.

Hope Zeferjohn, now 19, faced a potential 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to the trafficking charge in March. In exchange for her guilty plea, Shawnee County prosecutors agreed to drop the 11 other charges they had filed against her.

Sentencing initially scheduled for June was postponed after Zeferjohn's public defender, Heather Nelson, withdrew from the case citing a potential conflict of interest due to new information provided by Zeferjohn. Defense attorney Kathleen Ambrosio took her place.

Activists in the sex-worker rights community and victims' advocates commenced a letter-writing campaign to Ambrosio and the judge in the case, citing mitigating factors they hoped would call for mercy from the judge.

Zeferjohn was a minor at the time, selling sex under pressure and alleged physical abuse from her adult boyfriend and pimp, Anthony Long. Even had he exerted no pressure or force, she would still have fallen under the federal definition of child sex-trafficking victim.

Hope "herself was sex trafficked," Zeferjohn's older sister, Heather, wrote in a public Facebook post.

Zeferjohn was just 15 when she met Long, then in his early 20s. She and her infant son had moved in with Long shortly before she attempted—at Long's urging—to recruit a 14-year-old friend from church camp to join them. The girl never agreed to the scheme, and the extent of the damage was Long sending her sexually explicit Facebook messages.

Zeferjohn's role, meanwhile, was limited to chatting with the girl on Facebook and digitally introducing her to Long. Nonetheless, Shawnee County, Kansas, arrested both Long and Zeferjohn on felony human-trafficking charges. Long was sentenced in April to 35 years in prison.

This week, Kansas' Third Judicial District court sentenced Zeferjohn with credit for time served since she turned 18, though not for the time she served in juvenile detension. (Zeferjohn has already been in custody for 378 days.) She is eligible for a 15 percent sentence reduction for good behavior, but will be subject to lifetime court supervision, registration as a sex offender, and a permanent ban on carrying a firearm.

According to public case notes, this sentence was meant to reflect a light touch owing to Zeferjohn's age and "participation [in the crime] under duress or oppression."

When people wonder why we have such a large prison population, independent of the drug war, think that our justice system considers a reasonable and compassionate solution sentencing a child under the coercion of a pimp to nearly six years in prison for online chatting.

Photo Credit: mugshot/Shawnee County

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...our justice system considers a reasonable and compassionate solution sentencing a child under the coercion of a pimp to nearly six years in prison for online chatting.

    You know how many homes she might have wrecked? Anyway, sometimes the only way to save someone is to systemically victimize them.

  • Juice||

    Who was her lawyer? GD, refuse the "deal" and go to court.

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown||

    A public defender who, according to people intimately involved with the situation, had no wish to contest the charges from the beginning

  • Brother Kyfho||

    The goddamn public defender does **not** get to decide whether or not the case goes to trial. That's up to the defendant.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Where's Jimmy McGill when you need him?

  • Sevo||

    "A public defender who, according to people intimately involved with the situation, had no wish to contest the charges from the beginning"

    Isn't it wonderful that we pay for people like this to provide competent legal assistance for those in need?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Does a plea count towards ones conviction rate?

  • gaoxiaen||

    Of course. Why else would a prosecutor agree to one? A plea bargain down to spitting on the sidewalk is still a win.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yeah, people really need to demand speedy trials and demand jury trials for crimes.

    Nobody wants to be the target of the government's rage but these judges are throwing the book at people and their appeal options are limited since they pled guilty.

    Plus, after a tipping point of people demand speedy jury trials, the counties and federal courts cannot handle all the speedy trials in time, so they would be forced to dismiss charges or offer reduced charges or whatever. They would be in effect prioritizing criminal defendants and tend to only go after the really bad persons. At is stands now, they throw the book at really bad defendants and not so bad defendants.

  • Cyto||

    Or.... an unsympathetic jury finds you guilty on the 15 trumped and tacked on charges that they made up out of one act, and an angry and unsympathetic judge gives you the maximum on each charge, to be served consecutively. Congratulations, you'll be eligible for parole in 2137.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yup. That is the risk. You can at least alert the jury that that is what the state or federal government is trying to do to you. Judges don't like defendants to say that to juries but what are they going to do- lock you up?

  • Cyto||

    Yes. Yes they are.

    They will declare a mistrial and hold you in contempt of court. Then you'll be retried with a new jury.

    So you gain nothing and lose something. I don't see how it is either ethical or legal to keep juries ignorant as to the consequences of their decisions, but that seems to be where we are.

  • Dan S.||

    If she has the opportunity, she probably should, but it may be too late for that, if she has "agreed" to the guilty plea. Also, while I don't think any jury would convict her if the trial was over the single charge she has pleaded guilty too, if there were 12 charges, they might feel they needed to convict her of something. A very sad situation.

  • Juice||

    Why are juries so stupid?

  • croaker||

    Voir Dire is a French term meaning "jury tampering."

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    Because most people are stupid.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Half the people you see have a below-average IQ.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    When people wonder why we have such a large prison population, independent of the drug war, think that our justice system considers a reasonable and compassionate solution sentencing a child under the coercion of a pimp to nearly six years in prison for online chatting.

    Savage. But you know... IF even one child gets (somehow) saved... Worth!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'd rather let a million children be killed than let a single one die.

  • gaoxiaen||

    This is child abuse.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Think of the children and then lock them up!!!!

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Patty Hearst would understand.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Only because she had a top-notch lawyer to explain it to her, the judge, and the jury.

  • dschwar||

    Plus, after a tipping point of people demand speedy jury trials, the counties and federal courts cannot handle all the speedy trials in time, so they would be forced to dismiss charges or offer reduced charges or whatever. They would be in effect prioritizing criminal defendants and tend to only go after the really bad persons defendants they know they can convict. At is stands now, they throw the book at really bad defendants and not so bad defendants.

    FTFY

  • dschwar||

    Sorry, that was supposed to be a reply to lc1789 above.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Maybe that too.

    The main point is that at least jury trials give you a fighting chance. Once you plead guilty, you are at the mercy of the judge. Judges are not known for being anything but tools of the state.

  • gaoxiaen||

    In a plea bargain the punishment is negotiated before the guilty plea. Six months of probation for a bargained-down homicide still counts as a win for the prosecutor.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, after all, if she didn't want to go to jail, why did she become a whore?
    Don't all 15 years old girls with a child have enough sense to figure out not to make money the only way they can?
    If the state stops arresting children for sex, the next thing you know, they would have to stop arresting adults for sex.
    Then where would we be?
    And it is only just that she forfeit the bill of rights forever, I mean she did one wrong thing.

    I will close with this - where are all the feminists?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I will close with this - where are all the feminists?

    Writing think-pieces about Melania's wardrobe.

  • Longtobefree||

    Oh, yeah.
    I hadn't gotten to those stories yet. Silly me.

    And stories is the right word.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I like her shoes. And Ivanka's. Okay, really I only like the legs..

  • Louis Lucky||

    Being fortunate to live in a Judeo-Christian society which emphasizes "forgiveness," when Hope Zeferjohn is released from prison, she'll find that she is unemployable in this country. Unless of course she takes up women's oldest profession.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Along with supplementary welfare.

  • SIV||

    I will close with this - where are all the feminists?

    Duh...slutshaming the teenage whore!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Don't want be a sex trafficking thug, don't be a victim of sex trafficking.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This hysteria fit is the ku-klux conservative mile-wide steamroller the LP momentarily stepped in front of back in 1990. Close call there.

  • esteve7||

    The whole point of a jury trial is to defend against injustice like this.
    Plenty of juries would still get it wrong but some would get it right.

  • MarkLastname||

    Prosecutor probably threatened to give her 25 to life if she was convicted at trial; if that much of my life were on the line I'd have serious reservations about gambling with 12 citizens.

    The prosecutors have way too much discretion, and apparently many of them are just plain sadists.

  • esteve7||

    Well then the law should be changed so you can't even threaten that to begin with

    Way we are going every crime will be like that so unless you are rich or politically connected...

  • ||

    Well then the law should be changed so you can't even threaten that to begin with

    Torture and plea bargaining

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Then judges have great authority to step in and be a check to prosecutorial power but many don't.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Ex-prosecutors and cops. How often does a criminal defense lawyer become a judge?

  • Longtobefree||

    As part of the plea, 11 other charges were dismissed.
    They were: felony charges of conspiracy to commit rape, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sodomy, indecent solicitation of a child 14-15 years old, electronic solicitation of a child believed to be younger than 16, aggravated intimidation, four counts of making a criminal threat and two misdemeanor charges of endangering a child and contributing to a child's misconduct or deprivation.
    In severity, the aggravated human trafficking conviction falls in the same category as a second-degree murder conviction in Kansas.

    How many yards is the penalty for piling on?

  • esteve7||

    Department of redundancy department?

  • Juice||

    Yeah, it all sounds like the same damned thing.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    If I were POTUS, I'd work 12 hours per day, and 11 of those hours would be spent granting pardons for this kind of bullshit.

  • croaker||

    POTUS lacks jurisdiction.

  • gaoxiaen||

    No. Pen and phone.

  • Hank Phillips||

    "a coercive and violent older man"... Um, are we talking about Beauregard Sessions or The Don here?

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    I thought Crusty was her pump based on the description.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Pimp... Damn phone.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Sessions has polio arms and a pencil neck. He's a Keebler hangaround. His physical violence can be equaled by the average second-grader.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Sex trafficking and its minor outlier bullshit referenced by the inimitable E.B. is the drag unit. If one wishes to truly go where no crimes are solved become a serial killer stretched thinly over time. Understand that very few fucking murders are solved and these bodies line by the many fucking many thousands that by-way that runs by your fucking condo and the park all the girls run in... yeah, a few skeletons with shining fingers clutch old Maple leaves... also, the beaches... all beaches, especially lonely ones are thick with corpses left alone tortured on the runes of time while law enforcement runs about cracking skulls for pot and shady sex businesses where tight wallets need to eat on a veiny dick....

    I promise you, the F.O.P. in spite of that fucking old shit running this place and CHRIST his wife makes him look more wrinkled by the day because she is so FUCKING hot she sucks the cum out of my cock every time she swaggers off a plane... the F.O.P. can't solve murder because it is the most ignorant motherfucking factory on earth. Albeit, perhaps, the few notable testy once-badged codgers who spend entire lifetimes tracking down shadow killers of 9 year-old Jennifers and Nancy's.

    So, yeah, get dos weirdos on da socials, Lemmer Enforcementz! Hundreds of thousands of murders over the last 30 years can wait until you all FUCKING GET RETIRED and get right with the goddamn Lord Jesus.

  • Chipper Morning, Now #1||

    [Awards Agile Cyborg another Tape Measure Award for a most insightful snark comment]

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Original Super Chipper Insider- this creature above...

    Legit thread Angel Beast, bros and sis's of the modern wandering into and about.

    'Chipper' titles hearken to ancient times and for this we shall all be grateful.

  • gaoxiaen||

    NEEDZ MOAR MUSHROOMS!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Never saw a stretch of beach where goddamn motherfucking police couldn't figure out all the sand-drenched skeletons buried underneath while they fucking run over Mama and Papa on their beach blanket in L.A. with their stupid truck under a sun rich with orange and alabaster.

    Leave it up to fucking law enforcement to traipse about in armored trucks fat with fucking hotdogs and diner bacon to act as if they are goddamn Jesus Mohammed fucking Christ set about to stop the speeders (HALLELUJAH???) and save who the FUCK knows what from only the fucking retard who created the worst fucking policing theory since the Pinkerton ass thumbings- the FUCKING Broken Windows Theory?!!! WHAT! fuck that sniveling corpuscle hoary-headed shit-scribbler... Jesus FUCKING Christ with a PJMedia Dildo, cops are worthless hyenas laughing about in a landscape of unionized dreams shat from the asses of Mayors rich with dead lonely bodies rotten and mucking off tax-payers while these blazing light stock car racers pretend to be so goddamn special.

    Solve ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND murders PLUS and maybe I will start to respect the assholes in blue.

  • gaoxiaen||

    In other words, never.

  • Cyto||

    This is a little like Trayvon Martin, only in reverse.

    Remember how they trotted out pictures of him as a sweet, 12 year old boy, when he was in reality a much larger and rough-looking 17 year old at the time of his death? It served to get everyone riled up as to the injustice of his shooting.

    Well, this is the opposite effect. She was a younger person... a minor... when the events occurred. But after a year in jail, she goes to court as an older, rougher woman. Hard to imagine that 15 year old girl she used to be when she was first targeted by her pimp. Even harder to imagine her year-younger self as a victim and not a predator.... not when you are looking at that rough and scarred face with hollow eyes that show no warmth.

    But that's OK. She'll be a much better person when she's released at 25. Another half-decade behind bars will surely undo the damage that being forced into street prostitution in her middle teens did. She'll be much more productive without having to worry about living near a school or a park too. Or having to hold down a job that pays more than minimum wage. So I think society made a great deal with this plea bargain.

  • Sevo||

    Cyto, I've read your posts for years, and this is one of the best:

    "But that's OK. She'll be a much better person when she's released at 25. Another half-decade behind bars will surely undo the damage that being forced into street prostitution in her middle teens did. She'll be much more productive without having to worry about living near a school or a park too. Or having to hold down a job that pays more than minimum wage. So I think society made a great deal with this plea bargain."

    It would be hard to improve on both the sarcasm and the obvious concern for someone as victimized by the courts as this poor woman is.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 Jodie Foster

  • JeremyR||

    So let me get this straight. Instead of using the internet to try to find help from her abusive boyfriend/pimp, she instead uses it to try to recruit other girls? Because she had no agency at all?

    Color me skeptical that she had no other choice.

  • techgump||

    Because, no doubt, your agency was full of mature and insightful decisions as a teen... and that's without the violent BF. Perhaps you've just forgotten how truly naive teens are, or you actually believe you weren't.

  • ||

    The irony here is that this whole sex-tracking hysteria is being pushed by the old line feminist and look who your victim is....... Baptist and bootlegers

  • Longtobefree||

    Is that two groups, or just one?

  • gaoxiaen||

    One. Just like the Republicrats.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Well, you cannot have husbands getting their sex from pros. Then they would not have to put up with women's BS use of sex as a manipulative tool.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Honestly, hard to feel sorry for this individual trying to lure other girls in a team up with her but-I-love-him pimp.

  • mysmartstuffs||

    Yew, so terrible!
    My recent post: Leader Boot Review
    My recent post: Flip Flop Profits Review

  • macsnafu||

    The LEO's are so messed up about "sex trafficking" that they even punish the victims of actual sex trafficking, while pursuing bogus charges against them.

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