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Utah Man Convicted to Consecutive Terms of Up to Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2019

AGGRAVATED SEX TRAFFICKING CASE: CONSECUTIVE TERMS OF UP TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR UTAH MAN
 

SALT LAKE CITY – This week, James Savage Brown was sentenced to the maximum sentence on each of eight counts of human trafficking-related charges in the Utah Third District Court. Brown was convicted in August 2019 on each of the charges, which included Aggravated Human Trafficking, Aggravated Kidnapping, Rape, Forcible Sodomy, Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution and Tampering with a witness.
 
“This is a case where the penalty has matched the severity of the atrocious crimes committed by James Savage Brown,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “Human Trafficking is a brutal violation of human rights and dignity and I pledge every resource in my office to continue to fight it.”
 
Attorney General Reyes continued, “I’m extremely proud of our team—particularly Assistant Utah Attorney General Tye Christensen, former Assistant Utah Attorney General Russell Smith, along with our victim advocate group—for their hard work and dedication in this case and those other cases still under investigation.” 
 
Background
Utah Attorney General SECURE Strike Force agents learned of Brown’s activity last year from one of the victims, S.S., after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, S.S. encountered another woman, J.M., who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Investigators later learned that J.M. had previously reported her encounter with Brown to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Both victims told stories of manipulation and coercion, including exploiting drug dependency, threatened or actual physical abuse, fear for their lives, and repeated attempts and/or success in forced commercial sex by Brown. Shortly after Brown was arrested, investigators overheard Brown, via telephone, direct an associate to tamper with a victim that Brown believed to be working with law enforcement.
 
Trial
At trial, the jury heard each victim-witness testify about how Brown victimized them and preyed upon their vulnerabilities. The victim-witnesses showed immense strength and authenticity in sharing such traumatic and personal experiences with the jury. During closing statements at trial, the jury was encouraged to consider the credibility of the victim-witnesses. After a few hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Brown on all counts.
 
Sentencing
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Parker with the Third District Court sentenced Brown to four terms of five years up to life in prison, one term of fifteen years up to life in prison, two terms of one year to fifteen years in prison, and a term of zero to five years in prison. The sentence of count one, five years to life in prison, will run consecutive to the remaining counts, the most serious being fifteen years to life in prison. This is the maximum possible sentence for these charges. Judge Parker explained that this sentence balanced the defendant’s interest in an appropriate length of imprisonment for rehabilitation with each victims’ interest in justice for what they experienced.

Acknowledgments
Human trafficking cases are very complex and require the strength and talents of many professionals in order to properly serve victims, as well as investigate and prosecute the criminal conduct. Attorney General Reyes wishes to thank the following organizations and individuals for their dedicated work in this case:

  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force, which is tasked with investigating human trafficking throughout the state. The case agent and lead investigator uncovered important evidence to corroborate the victims’ testimony, assisted the victims throughout their recovery and trial preparation, and testified at trial;
  • The Salt Lake City Police Department, whose collaboration was instrumental in identifying victims, ensuring they received necessary medical care, and corroborating victims’ reports.
  • Victim service providers with the Refugee and Immigrant Center, Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU). They coordinated and provided comprehensive services to the victims in this case, untethered to the victims’ cooperation in the prosecution;
  • Victim service providers with Journey of Hope who initially referred the case and assisted victims throughout the case and in preparation for trial;
  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s victim services coordinator, who worked tirelessly to ensure that the victims’ needs were met, and their rights were represented at every stage of the proceeding;
  • Utah Attorney General’s Office Paralegal Michelle Rasmussen, who kept the case file for the prosecution, assisted in witness trial preparation, and organized and managed the evidence, exhibits, and witnesses for trial; and
  • Assistant Utah Attorney General Tye Christensen and former Assistant Utah Attorney General Russell Smith, who filed the case, argued important evidentiary motions, presented the trial, and argued at sentencing.

 
If you encounter or suspect any form of human trafficking, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888, or text “HELP” to BeFree, 233-733.
 

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Utah AG’s Office Obtains Convictions Against Human Trafficker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2019
 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OBTAINS CONVICTIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKER JAMES SAVAGE BROWN
Women shared stories of assault, abuse, and forced sexual exploitation


SALT LAKE CITY – On Thursday, August 29, 2019 a Third District Court Jury convicted James Savage Brown on multiple felony charges-including aggravated human trafficking-against two women. The Utah Attorney General’s office SECURE Section investigated and prosecuted the case and worked for more than a year to obtain the conviction. 

Brown was convicted of the following charges:

  • Aggravated Human Trafficking for Forced Sexual Exploitation
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution
  • Tampering with a Witness

A pre-sentence report has been requested and sentencing has been scheduled for October 21st at 1:30 pm. AG Special Agents learned of Brown’s activity last year from one of the victims. S.S., after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, S.S. encountered another woman, J.M., who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Investigators later learned that J.S. had previously reported her encounter with Brown to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Both women told stories of manipulation and coercion, including exploiting drug dependency, threatened or actual physical abuse, fear for their lives, and repeated attempts and/or success in forced prostitution by Brown.

Collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office and the Salt Lake City Police Department was instrumental in identifying the victims and corroboration the victims’ reports. Once identified, the two victims received counseling and other services through a partner agency of the Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force, The Refugee and Immigrant Center—Asian Association of Utah.

“I am very proud of my team of investigators, prosecutors and victim advocates including Russell Smith, Tye Christensen, Michelle Rasmussen, and Ruthie Pedregon for their hard work and professionalism in obtaining justice for the women are survivors of James Savage Brown’s crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “We are also relieved that the victims are safe and receiving the best resources we have at our disposal. Human trafficking is a despicable crime that we in the Utah AGO are deeply committed to combat with aggressive investigations and prosecutions.”

The Attorney General’s SECURE Strike force executed the investigation and arrest. SECURE is tasked by the Utah Legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations, including human trafficking.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.


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 NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the charging documents and probable cause statement here:  https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/James-Brown-Savage.pdf.
  2. Read more about the AG’s SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/secure-task-force/.
  3. You can find more information on the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking/.
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