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3 guilty in Somali gang sex trafficking case

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Suspects
Several mugshots from arrests of an alleged multi-state prostitution ring.
Image courtesy of US District Court in Tennessee

Three Twin Cities men were found guilty Friday in a complex child prostitution case that stretched from Minnesota to Ohio and Tennessee. A federal jury in Nashville found six additional people in the case not guilty.

Attorney David Komisar, who represents Yassin Yusuf of Minneapolis, one of the three men convicted, says he was disappointed in the verdict and maintains that a key witness, known as Jane Doe 2, was an adult when she had sex with his client.

"There was no indication she was forced, coerced, or sex-trafficked in any shape, form or fashion, in terms of what her own desires were," he said.

But the jury believed the government's case that Jane Doe 2 was underage when she was sold for sex.

"In Jane Doe 2's case, it's probably fair to say she was not dragged, kicking and screaming by gunpoint into a car on every one of these occasions," said her attorney, Carol Owen. "But it's also the case that 12-year-old children do not give [oral sex] to a series of men in a way that any reasonable adult would find appropriate."

Owen says her client had to overcome her fear of reprisal to speak out in court about what she endured.

Despite evidence introduced by the defense at trial, such as a false birth certificate, Owens maintains her client is the age she claims to be, and says Jane Doe 2 is looking forward to finishing her senior year in high school. She called the defense strategy "appropriate and perhaps brilliant," but one that did not ultimately sway the jury.

"Their point seemed to be she was old enough to consent and did consent," Owen said. "Minors cannot consent to the kind of conduct that was perpetrated upon her. It is against the law to traffic children, even if they tell you they want to."

Thirty people were charged in the case. The remaining defendants are expected to be tried at a later date.