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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 Opioid Task Force Convenes to Discuss the Opioid Crisis in Utah

June 26, 2019

This week, the Utah Opioid Task Force convened for their quarterly meeting to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and consider new programs and resources.

Suicide & Opioid Addiction

Cathy Bledsoe from Hope4Utah presented to the Opioid Task Force on Hope Squads, a peer suicide prevention program. Hope Squads are made up of students elected for their kindness. These students are trained by professionals to watch for at-risk students and identify warning signs, provide friendship, and seek help from adults. The Hope Squad model was created in the late 90s by Greg Hudnall, a principal in the Provo School District who realized that too many lives were being lost and peers were an important tool in solving the problem. Data from the Provo School District has shown that these Hope Squads are invaluable in preventing suicide and that since their creation, student suicides have gone down. There are now 207 schools in Utah participating in the Hope Squad program, with new schools joining in all the time.

“Suicide is important to hear and talk about when fighting the opioid crisis,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “It’s reaching the root of the problem – that people are in pain and trying to get rid of that pain.”

Along with programs like SafeUT, Hope Squads provide support and resources to students in Utah. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in youths ages 10-19. Utah alone is ranked 5th in the nation for suicide rates.

The Effect of Opioids on Children

Carrie Jensen from the CJC Program and Allison Smith from RIC-AAU urged the importance of understanding the effect that opioids have on children. When their parents are suffering from addiction, children are at a higher risk for having emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. Additionally, Jensen and Smith discussed the effects that tobacco can have on children. One particularly worrisome issue is that vape cartridges can be laced with other drugs such as Fentanyl that can have detrimental effects from addiction to death.

U of U Emergency Opioid Use Disorder Program

Peter Taillac, a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine with the University of Utah, and Paula Cook, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Addiction Medicine with the University of Utah, presented on the recovery programs provided by the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI). They explained that addiction is a chronic illness and needs to be treated this way. Currently, when opioid users end up in the emergency department due to overdose or a willingness to get treatment, doctors give them resources and a referral to treatment, which users rarely follow up on. However, this new model proposes that emergency room doctors provide opioid addicts with a prescription for Buprenorphine, a medication that is used to wean users off of opioids, and schedules a follow-up for the user to meet with counselors at UNI. Users are also paired up with peer support coaches who have successfully overcome addiction and are given a case manager. UNI then provides treatment for free to the user for thirty days, after which they contact a community partner to provide housing and other resources for recovering addicts. Compared to the current practice, this model drastically reduces opioid usage of addicts and increases the number of addicts who continue long-term treatment compared. While this service is currently only available at the University Hospital, Professors Taillac and Cook are working with other medical centers to help them adopt the model.

Best of State – Public Works

This year, the Utah Opioid Task Force was honored to be the recipient of the 2018 Best of State Public Works Award. The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.

The Utah Opioid Task Force is dedicated to combatting the opioid epidemic in Utah and works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. You can help combat the opioid crisis by steering clear of opioids, getting rid of unused meds, reaching out if you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, learning to recognize an overdose, and learning how to use a Naloxone kit. Learn more here.

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