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Published: Wednesday, 7/4/2012

30-year prison term ordered in teen's trafficking

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Anthony C. Willoughby Jr. Anthony C. Willoughby Jr.
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By providing her with names, clothing, and instructions on what to say and what to charge, Anthony C. Willoughby controlled a teenage runaway and forced her into prostitution -- a form of "modern-day slavery," a federal judge said Tuesday before sentencing Willoughby to 30 years in prison.

"… We have a situation where a young runaway, vulnerable, ends up with you, Mr. Willoughby, for a period of time," U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary said. "… You then turn her out to turn tricks for you for money, all the while keeping her captive. …"

Willoughby, 39, of Toledo was found guilty Dec. 16 of sex trafficking of a minor. The jury further found Willoughby used "force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion" to force the victim to engage in commercial sex acts.

"You're known as P.T., Party Time. Well, party time is over," Judge Jack Zouhary said at the conclusion of the nearly two-hour sentencing hearing. "It is now prison time, a long time, but it is deserved time."

Willoughby was indicted in September, 2010, in a one-count indictment. During the three-day trial more than a year later, the victim testified that she was 16 and in foster care when she ran away from home and met Willoughby.

Judge Zouhary recounted in court Tuesday some of the victim's testimony, which included being taken in by Willoughby and led to believe she was his girlfriend. She testified that she cleaned his house, watched his children, and had sex with him daily, the judge said.

He coached her in prostitution and gave her clothing, lists of names, and instructions on what to say and how to act. She was forced to walk Lagrange Street at least once and recounted being beaten by Willoughby at least three times, the judge said. "This was, in short, a scared juvenile who had no place to go when you walked into her life, and who you made sure she had no place to go to get away," Judge Zouhary said.

The charge is punishable by a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Judge Zouhary said based on Willoughby's criminal history and the facts of the case, federal guidelines recommended a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

Judge Zouhary said during the hearing that he could not find any factor that would warrant a sentence below the recommended guideline.

Attorney Spiros Cocoves, who was appointed after the trial when Willoughby asked for a new attorney, noted in court that he believed the sentences attached to the charge were "unduly punitive." He said when comparing these cases to those in which someone is shot and killed, the time behind bars appears "unfair."

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Maroney, Jr., countered that the sentences were outlined by Congress to reflect its beliefs of "how horrific these crimes are."

Mr. Maroney further noted that this case was unlike many pornography cases in that there was a "live victim" who suffered at Willoughby's hands.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland, Willoughby's case was one of the first human trafficking cases to go to trial in northern Ohio. It was investigated by the FBI, and the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force.

"The details of this case underscore why it is so important that we continue to work collaboratively and try to eradicate this modern-day slavery," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach said in a statement. "This defendant preyed upon a weak, vulnerable victim and used her suffering as an opportunity for profit."

During the hearing, Willoughby was given several opportunities to speak and voice objections. He professed his innocence, claimed to be the victim of "guerrilla justice," and expressed dissatisfaction with his attorneys. He pointed to several instances in which he believed his rights were violated.

He further accused the victim of lying and of being coerced by federal investigators and said she could not be found credible because she had recanted her statement in the past. Federal officials countered by saying the victim never wavered from her account of what happened.

Several of Willoughby's supporters were in the courtroom, and one began crying after hearing the sentence. Security escorted the group out after one man began yelling about the sentence while his friends and family tried to quiet him.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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