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|Former go-go dancer at Atlanta gay bar found guilty of human trafficking charges|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|August 27, 2012 08:23|
A former go-go dancer at Atlanta gay bar BJ Roosters faces 25-50 years in prison on human trafficking charges and 25 to life on aggravated child molestation charges after being found guilty of luring young people via the internet to his home for sex and also selling them for sex to others.
Steven Lemery was found guilty on Friday, Aug. 24, according to a report in the Douglas County Sentinel.
It took a jury less than two hours on Friday to find Lemery guilty on five counts of human trafficking, three counts of aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes and pandering by compulsion. According to the Sentinel, this case is believed to be one of the first convictions of human trafficking of males for sexual purposes since the charge became law.
“The victims in this case were often very reluctant to testify and tell people what happened to them,” said Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ackley after the verdict was read, according to the Sentinel. “It is very traumatic to have to go into detail on the stand and face the humiliation and embarrassment of having been taken in and falling victim to this man.
“But when it was over and now with this verdict, they can now move on with their lives. After the victims testified they talked about how empowering it was to do this – face their victim without fear and to know that it was over," she added.
Lemery was arrested in March 2011 along with Atlanta drag personality Pasha Nicole, whose legal name is Christopher Thomas Lynch. The two were accused at the time by Douglas County law enforcement of trafficking minors and Lemery was also accused of trafficking an adult.
The two were indicted in April 2011. The investigation into trafficking charges against Lemery and Lynch, aka Pasha Nicole, began after a minor in Alabama was taken to the hospital for injuries.
According to Douglas law enforcement, the investigation into the two began in January 2011 and multiple victims were identified as being from Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.
Lemery used social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace to lure teen boys to have sex with him at his house in Douglas County but then would not allow them to leave. Lemery also allegedly did not feed the boys and kept them locked in a closet.
Lynch, aka Pasha Nicole, pleaded guilty in March 2012 to sexual exploitation of children, pimping, pandering by compulsion and sexual exploitation of children. Lynch was sentenced to 30 years in prison and mandated to spend the first 14 behind bars.
Defense attorney for Lemery, Tracey D. Gibson, said victims gave inconsistent testimonies and that Lemery, who often lied about his age on his online profiles, often had no idea how old some of the victims were.
“It would be easy for you to be so disgusted that you throw your hands up and convict my client,” Gibson said during closing arguments of Lemery's trial, according to the Sentinel. “But please look at the law and consider the facts and the testimony and keep an open mind."
According to the Sentinel, Ackley argued that no mercy should be given to Lemery for what he put his young victims through — sexual abuse, being locked up in a closet, not fed for days and basically treated as animals.
“I ask you to consider the law and consider the victims,” Ackley said. “I ask you to send a message to the victims and tell them that what not only is this not OK, but it is not your fault.”
Photo: Steven Lemery. (via Douglas County Sheriff's Office)
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