A local man pleaded no contest Wednesday to human trafficking to commit another crime, a felony, and other criminal charges, including assaulting someone with a clothes hanger.
Michael Shaw, 38, of Santa Clarita, appeared in San Fernando Superior Court where he pleaded no contest to one felony count each of human trafficking to commit another crime, assault with a deadly weapon, a hanger, and assault likely to produce great bodily injury.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 21, Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said.
Shaw was one three people arrested in relation to a prostitution case in 2016.
His co-accused, 31-year-old Eric Hamwey, of Encino, pleaded no contest in April to taking a person for prostitution without consent, a felony. He also pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of tattoo person under 18 years.
Victims forced into prostitution are sometimes “branded” with a tattoo by their traffickers, according detectives describing human trafficking.
Hamwey was charged with human trafficking to commit another crime, pandering by procuring and pimping. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2019.
A Santa Clarita woman was also arrested in the 2016 case.
Ashley Peart, 29, who was arrested on suspicion of robbery in connection with the same 2016 incident, saw the case against her dismissed by a judge a year ago after hearing evidence presented at a preliminary hearing.
The three were arrested by officers of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force who executed search warrants at five locations throughout Southern California, according to a news release issued by Deputy Lisa Jansen in May 2016.
Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a call for help and learned that Shaw was allegedly trafficking an adult victim for sex and had violently assaulted her when she tried to get away.
Shaw had fled the scene, however, by the time deputies got there.
Human trafficking detectives, meanwhile, learned Hamwey had previously befriended the victim on Instagram and flown her out to California from Texas for the purpose of commercial adult sex work. After a short time, Hamwey “sold” the victim to Shaw, Jansen said.
“After being trafficked by (Shaw) for several weeks, the victim attempted to flee and was assaulted by Suspect Shaw and Suspect Peart who also robbed the victim. The victim sustained serious injuries during the assault,” Jansen wrote in her news release.
Subsequently, human trafficking detectives with the help of local sheriff’s deputies, executed search warrants at two locations in Santa Clarita. Similar searches were carried out in North Hollywood and Encino.
During the searches, human trafficking detectives found a second woman they identified as a victim of human sex trafficking.
More than 100 pieces of evidence were recovered, including three handguns, cash, computers and numerous cellular telephones.