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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Man receives 10 years in child prostitution case

Rare conviction comes as sex trafficking gains more attention

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A man who held a then-15-year-old Vancouver girl hostage to be a prostitute was sentenced Friday to 10 years and two months in prison.

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Nichols told Darius D. Yancey he was “tempted to give him more time,” considering he had tried to blame the situation, in part, on the victim.

“There’s no excuse,” Nichols said. “You’re a man. You know what’s going on. The girl, a minor who was held against her will, did not.”

Yancey pleaded guilty last month to the promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor. He’s believed to be the first child sex trafficker to be convicted in Clark County.

Former Vancouver Congresswoman Linda Smith and others have recently drawn attention to child prostitution along the Interstate 5 corridor, and local police have cracked down.

After developing a sexual relationship with the girl in July, Yancey, 22, of the Vancouver-Portland area, took her to -Bellevue, where they lived in several hotels. He solicited her for prostitution on Internet sites, and when johns called her for service, he’d tell her what to say, according to court papers.

When the men arrived, Yancey would wait in a vehicle out front, court paper said. Later, he forced the girl to give him the money, prosecutors alleged. She made $1,000 while prostituting, which she was ordered to give to him, court papers said.

When the two came back to Vancouver a week later, the girl — in her pajamas and barefoot — managed to escape and alert a local business for help, said Deputy Prosecutor Anna Klein.

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Klein told the judge that a pre-sentence investigation showed that Yancey has a history of drug abuse and had engaged in various activities to support his habit.

“In this case, he used the victim to get fast money,” she said.

Yancey could have faced significantly more time in prison. Authorities were also considering federal charges of using the Internet to further prostitution, which were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.

“The risk of dealing with federal authorities was too great,” defense attorney Jeff Witteman said.

Witteman and Klein had agreed on a 122-month sentence under the state’s sentencing guidelines. The sentence did not reflect a new law passed in February, which boosted the sentencing range to 93 to 318 months for the promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

“I want to apologize to the victim,” Yancey said when it was his turn to speak. He said he had made several mistakes in his life and was now taking responsibility for his actions.

But Nichols pointed out that Yancey had characterized the situation as only 40 percent his fault, blaming the rest on the victim.

“You could get more time, and I’m very tempted to do that,” Nichols said. “But I respect too much of the process” to change the agreed sentence.

The victim, now 16, did not wish to address the judge. Later, she expressed shock upon finding that Yancey has a pregnant fiancee.

“I just feel bad for the baby. That’s it,” she said.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.

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