A supervisor at Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative group home contracted by the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families (RI DCYF) who repeatedly sex-trafficked a missing 17-year-old girl has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
The sentencing was announced by Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston, Aaron L. Weisman, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island and Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Chief of the Cranston (R.I.) Police Department on May 9.
“We applaud this sentence, which is fitting and appropriate in this case,” said Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh of HSI Boston.
“There is no crime more disturbing than the sexual exploitation of children.”
“This case was even more detestable since the victim targeted by the perpetrator was a vulnerable, at-risk youth in the care of the state.”
In March and April 2017, Reysean Williams, 28, with the assistance of Leonardo Gomes, 20, of Pawtucket, RI sex trafficked the 17-year-old in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and on Long Island, New York, by posting advertisements and pictures of the teenager on the website “Backpage.com”, according to court documents and information presented at trial.
The ads were discovered by agents from HSI agents in Providence, and by detectives of the Cranston Police Department.
(Learn Moree. Are you sure your kids know who they’re talking to online? If someone demands sexual images from you, stop immediately and report it. In this PSA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) explore the dangers of sharing images online. Courtesy of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and YouTube.)
Williams first encountered Gomes when Williams was Gomes’ supervisor in a Pawtucket, RI residential group home contracted to provide services in the state youth agency’s care.
After Gomes was released from state agency custody, Williams recruited Gomes to participate in the sex trafficking operation, often using a state-run group home van to meet with Gomes and collect the proceeds from the 17-year-old sex trafficking victim.
Agents responded to a telephone number listed in the ads on Backpage.com to arrange a “a play for a two-girl special” with the 17-year-old at an apartment established by Cranston Police, to determine where the victim was being trafficked.
(The federal government shut down the website ‘backstage’ after searching the home of one of its founders, saying it was an action supported by the Justice Department’s office that fights child sexual exploitation. Courtesy of NBC News and YouTube. Posted on Apr 6, 2018.)
The victim and a female companion were taken into custody when they arrived at the apartment.
Gomes was found sitting in a vehicle across from the apartment and was arrested, and Williams was located and arrested approximately a week later.
Over the course of the investigation, authorities determined that in early March 2017, the victim met Williams and agreed to do “plays” (commercial sexual encounters) for him as a way of earning cash.
The victim told investigators that from mid-March to mid-April she usually did around 6 plays per day, but sometimes as many as 10 per day.
Oftentimes Gomes would drive her to various locations to perform sex acts in exchange for money in the Providence metropolitan area and in Massachusetts in a vehicle supplied by Williams, according to the victim.
(Project Safe Childhood – It doesnt matter who you are, it doesnt matter what youve achieved. Download sexual images of children or entice a minor online and you have committed a serious federal crime. You will go to prison and it will ruin your life. Courtesy of Project Safe Childhood and YouTube.)
The victim had also been driven by Gomes and Williams to locations as far away as the North Shore of Boston and on Long Island to perform sex acts in exchange for payment.
Williams paid for hotel rooms were paid for in cash, and all of the money paid to the 17-year-old was turned over to Gomes and Williams.
On Nov. 30, 2018 Reysean Williams pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a child and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison to be followed by five years’ supervised release May 9, 2019.
Leandro Gomes pleaded guilty on November 30, 2018, to traveling in interstate commerce with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He was sentenced on March 15, 2019, to 36 months imprisonment to be followed by 10 years supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Providence, Rhode Island office of HSI Boston and by the Cranston (RI) Police Department.
The cases were prosecuted by the office of United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron L. Weisman.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form.
Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.
HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU)
‘Excellence in Homeland Security’
The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and HRSP.
Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
(Learn About ICE HSI Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) which conducts investigations focused on human rights violations in an effort to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. Courtesy of ICE .gov and YouTube.)
To prevent the admission of foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers into the United States.
The unit has four important missions:
- To identify and prosecute individuals who have been involved and/or responsible for the commission of human rights abuses across the globe.
- To remove, whenever possible, those offenders who are located in the United States.
- To oversee the development of programs in response to the former President’s Presidential Study Directive-10, the prevention of mass atrocities.
The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 275 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes.
During that same period, ICE has denied more than 139 individuals from obtaining entry visas to the United States and created more than 66,000 subject records, which prevented identified human-rights violators from attempting to enter the United States.
Additionally, ICE successfully obtained deportation orders to physically remove more than 590 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.
Currently, ICE is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases that involve suspected human rights violators from nearly 96 different countries.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals or naturalized U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are encouraged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form; or the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section at 1-202-616-2492. Callers may remain anonymous.
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