First defendant found guilty under new sex trafficking law

LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County District Attorney's Office is celebrating its first guilty verdict under a new law targeting sex traffickers.

On July 23, a jury found Edrick Dillard guilty of sex trafficking, living from the earnings of a prostitute and preventing/dissuading a witness from testifying. This is the first guilty verdict under a law that went into effect last July, which made sex trafficking a crime.

Before the new law went into effect, people could only be prosecuted for pandering, which carried a sentence of just one to five years in prison. Now, sex trafficking is a category B felony with a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

"The use of the sex trafficking charge allows us to seek a much stronger sentence with this guilty verdict," Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc Schifalacqua said. "The goal is to deter this behavior in the future, and the longer prison terms will further that goal."

Dillard met a woman online and lured her into working for him, promising her a legitimate job in his escort business. However, the business was a front for prostitution. When she tried to leave, Dillard abused and intimidated her into continuing to work as a prostitute. Clark

County District Attorney Steve Wolfson says similar cases are in the queue ready for trial.

"I think the message is clear that now our laws have more teeth in them," Wolfson said. "This is one of the harshest in the country." 

Metro Police is calling this conviction a victory for victims of sex trafficking.

"For Metro, it hasn't changed anything because we've been doing this work for many, many, many years," Lt. Karen Hughes of Metro Police said. "What it is doing now is sending a loud message to those traffickers, those pimps, those people who engage in this kind of behavior."

Metro says more women have been coming to them willing to testify against their pimps.

After his arrest, Dillard continued to intimidate his victim and her family in an effort to get her to not testify against him.

He is facing similar charges in another trial.

The law does not just place harsher penalties on sex traffickers; it also provides assistance to victims. The victim in this case was helped by the DA's Victim/Witness Assistance Center.


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