NEW ORLEANS—Benson December Coriolant, 30, of Orlando, Florida, was convicted today by a federal jury of all four counts of which he was charged, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten. He was charged with and convicted of sex trafficking of a child, conspiring with others to sex traffic a child, coercing and enticing an individual to engage in prostitution, and coercing and enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.
According to evidence introduced at trial, in late 2008, Coriolant met R.V., a 14-year-old female. Shortly thereafter, he began a sexual relationship with her. After convincing the minor that their relationship was one of boyfriend/girlfriend, Coriolant recruited R.V. to begin working for him as a prostitute in the Orlando area. Coriolant posted advertisements on multiple city-specific Internet classified ad websites offering prostitution services of the minor. Over the course of the next year, Coriolant forced R.V. to engage in dozens of sexual acts in exchange for money throughout the entire state of Florida. Coriolant forced R.V. to turn over the money she earned from prostitution either to him or one of his associates. Coriolant also provided R.V. with alcohol and illicit and mood-altering drugs as a way of numbing her senses and controlling her behavior.
In March 2010, Coriolant drove R.V., who was the 15 year old, to Kenner, Louisiana, to work as a prostitute. Coriolant used the New Orleans version of the online classified advertisement website to solicit individuals interested in paying for sex with the minor. Coriolant required R.V. to put the money she made from prostitution—thousands of dollars—into a bank account for his benefit. He further forced her to account for all of her expenses, including personal expenses such as food, in a journal, daily letters, and text messages to him.
On April 24, 2010, R.V. was discovered by law enforcement authorities and, ultimately, sent back to Orlando with relatives. Once back in Orlando, Coriolant instructed R.V. to continue engaging in prostitution but to have sex only with regular, familiar clients because of concerns with law enforcement finding her.
In May 2010, Coriolant sent the minor back to New Orleans a second time to work as a prostitute. Coriolant again advertised sex with the minor on the online classified advertisement website. R.V. was arrested several days later.
Witness testimony and evidence set forth at trial, including recordings of phone calls between Coriolant and R.V., further proved that money from the commercial sex exploitation of the minor was provided to Coriolant. The documentary evidence and recorded calls also proved that Coriolant instructed R.V. in what to charge for sex, how to provide him with the profits, how to attract business, how to avoid being apprehended by law enforcement, and how to perform certain sexual acts.
Sentencing has been scheduled for December 20, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Coriolant faces a maximum of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release. Coriolant can also be required to register as a sex offender.
Speaking to today’s conviction, United States Attorney Jim Letten stated:
“Today’s conviction—and the presentation of the chilling testimony and evidence which, over the past few days, painted a stark picture of the grim realities, abuses, and human degradation of human trafficking—must serve as both a wake-up call and a warning to parents, citizens, and law enforcement officials alike that the child sex slave industry is a very real, clear, and present danger. My thanks go to the tremendous prosecution team, our FBI partners, and our Victim Assistance team for bringing this predator to justice and for protecting the lives of victims in this and other cases. We must and will remain vigilant in identifying and relentlessly pursuing those who steal our childrens’ lives by subjecting them to sexual slavery.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was further brought as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was aimed at addressing the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States. In the nine years since its inception, the initiative has resulted in the development of 47 dedicated task forces and working groups throughout the U.S. involving federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working in tandem with U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Orleans Division. The Tampa Division of the FBI and the Kenner, Louisiana Police Department also provided critical investigative assistance. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, Juliana Etland, and Sean Toomey.