DETROIT (WWJ)– On Thursday, a preliminary examination began for a Detroit man nicknamed “Gruesome,” the first person to face charges under Michigan’s new human trafficking law.
Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell is accused of enslaving two young girls and forcing them to engage in prostitution in Detroit over the last year.
One of the alleged victims, now 15-years-old, took the stand in Judge Geraldine Bledsoe Ford’s courtroom, and described how she met the 32-year-old defendant last year after she ran away from home.
She testified she met Mitchell through a friend and days later, Mitchell, who is also known as “Gruesome,” forced her into prostitution. She said Mitchell lined up customers for her, would drive her to the homes of men, collect the money and wait outside. She said Mitchell beat her when she wouldn’t follow orders and in one instance, he threatened to kill her.
Under cross-examination, the girl could not recall the names of the men she had been with, nor could she remember where they lived. She also said while there were many chances for her to leave the house where she lived with Mitchell, she never attempted to.
Mitchell was arrested in California and faces 13 criminal charges for enslavement, sexual exploitation and the abuse of two Detroit girls. He is the state’s first defendant to face charges under the state’s improved human trafficking laws.
The Michigan law banning human trafficking (MCL 760.462a, et seq.) went into effect on August 24, 2006. The law was strengthened in 2010, with those changes taking effect on April 1, 2011. Updates to the law included: adding human trafficking to the list of predicate offenses that fall under the state racketeering law, authorizing additional court-ordered restitution for trafficking victims and stronger penalties.
The preliminary exam continues next month.