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Press Release

June 2, 2016

Chino man sentenced in human trafficking case

JAMES OTIS (BOOKING PHOTO)

James Otis, Jr. (Booking Photo)


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– A Chino man was sentenced to state prison Thursday for sex trafficking an 18-year-old victim.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Colin J. Bilash sentenced 36-year-old James Anthony Otis, Jr., to 40 years in prison.

In Oct. 2015, a Rancho Cucamonga jury found Otis guilty of Human Trafficking to Commit Another Crime, Pimping and Pandering by Procuring.

The 7-week trial which encompassed 27 witnesses was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Tamara Ross, who is assigned to the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

After moving to California, the victim met Otis and his live-in girlfriend Sonya, who was the mother of his child and also working as his “bottom” or “manager.”

Bottom is a slang term used to describe a prostitute who has generally been with the pimp the longest and someone who sits atop the hierarchy of prostitutes working for the pimp.

According to Deputy District Attorney Ross, Otis and Sonya took the victim to work various areas in Southern California and aided her advertising efforts on Backpage.com and even rented her motel rooms to work out of for weeks at a time.

“During an argument in Hollywood, the defendant yanked the victim by the hair, causing her to fall and sprain her knee,” Ross said. “He then picked her up from the hospital and took her to his apartment.”

Two days later the victim decided to return home to Michigan. She told Otis that she was leaving and walked out of the apartment. Otis told her that she wasn’t going anywhere and grabbed her by her hair again, causing her to fall and reinjure her sprained knee. He then picked her up and carried her back into the apartment.

From the apartment, the victim contacted a friend in Michigan, who in turn contacted Chino police to report that the defendant wasn’t allowing the victim to leave the residence.

“This was a collaborative effort between the Chino Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office, with great support from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department High Tech Crimes Division," said Ross. “In addition to the crime charged, evidence at trial showed James Otis to be a prolific exploiter of young women. His aggravated sentence for human trafficking is justified.”

The aggravated sentence for human trafficking is 20 years, but due to a prior strike offense for robbery that was found true, Otis’ sentence was doubled.


Contact: Christopher Lee, Public Affairs Officer (909) 382-3665 or via email at clee@sbcda.org or via text at (909) 782-5559

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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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