On November 6, 2012, 81% of California voters approved Proposition 35--also known as the the "Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act"--making it the most successful ballot initiative in the history of California. District Attorney Michael Ramos was a vocal supporter of Proposition 35 early on and felt that its passage would send a strong message to human traffickers.
Proposition 35 increases prison terms for human traffickers; requires convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims; mandates law enforcement to conduct training on human trafficking; requires convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders; and requires all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts; however, there is a pending restraining order on the latter provision.
For the first time in California since Prop 35 was passed, a pimp faces a life sentence in state prison. On September 10, Christopher Lee Knox, 28, of San Bernardino, was found guilty by a jury of procuring another person for the purpose of prostitution, pimping a minor and persuading a minor to engage in commercial sex. Jurors also found true allegations that Knox used force, fear, coercion, violence or threat of unlawful injury to the victim. Knox was sentenced to 36 years to life in state prison October 16, 2014.
“Prior to the passage of Prop. 35, the maximum term that Mr. Knox could have faced was eight years, but now he faces 15 years to life,” Deputy District Attorney Melissa Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case. “This sends a stronger message to those who commit this type of crime.”
Rodriguez, who also heads up the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, said Knox threatened his 16-year-old victim—who was a runaway at the time—with a taser to make sure she understood and carried out his rules.
After being forced to work as a prostitute on Base Line in San Bernardino, the 16-year-old victim was approached by San Bernardino police officers and eventually admitted she was working for Knox. He was arrested that same day and taken into custody.
The following text messages--entered into evidence during the Knox trial--depict the mindset of a pimp and the relationship that exists between him and his victims:
January 2, 2013
VICTIM (12:02 AM): Don't tell me you're a PIMP lol
KNOX (12:03 AM): Yea I am buy only by choice I like u ma
VICTIM (12:08 AM): You are!
KNOX (12:09 AM): Yea
January 5, 2013
KNOX (9:41 AM): B---- u thnk its a game hoe
VICTIM (9:43 AM): No
VICTIM (9:44 AM): I don't a car.
KNOX (9:46 AM): B---- u got days 2 make up for thy adding. Up hoe a quuarter a day u o 750$ so for u get any further its gone b a problem I advise u 2 b on the blade @ 8 do here me
VICTIM (10:07 AM): So i owe on off dayz
KNOX (10:08 AM): B---- there is no off days hoe
January 19, 2013
KNOX (8:37 PM): Bring yo a--
VICTIM (8:39 PM): Iam daddy ihave to turn another date
VICTIM (8:41 PM): Plz dnt taze meeh when ikome [the rest of this message has been redacted due to its inappropriate content]
January 27, 2013
KNOX (12:27 PM): Wtf we nd sum money b----
VICTIM (12:28 PM): Okaii why you mad at meeh dame wtf dats crazy
VICTIM (12:29 PM): Iknoe wee do ikan work out here iit hard asf but okaii
VICTIM (12:37 PM): Wtf daddy do you see all these hoes out here
February 12, 2013:
VICTIM (9:04 PM): Iam sorry daddy you just no tryin to let meeh see my son
VICTIM (9:06 PM): Well Ihave aye hundred
KNOX (9:07 PM): B---- u better go hard kno bulls--- imma let u face consequences later
VICTIM (9:10 PM): You dnt understand my son iis gone 2morrow but you dnt care
VICTIM (9:14 PM): So iguess you dnt plz just kome get yo money so ikan go ceazalee
VICTIM (9:19 PM): You dnt let meeh see nobody you just care about ur family and isuspose to say f--- mines.
VICTIM (9:24 PM): Iam sorry ceazalee ijust dntwant you to hit me or taze meeh iam sorry
VICTIM (9:28 PM): Iam so stress ididnt mean to talk to you like dat