MILWAUKEE — A Hartford man, who for 23 years exploited women and a minor who worked out of strip clubs in Clyman and elsewhere, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 27 years in prison for sex trafficking.
Christopher L. Childs, 48, made a career of coercing, threatening and assaulting women, getting them to work in strips clubs, including the Hardware Store in Clyman, to engage in prostitution with the money going into Childs’ pockets, said Asst. U.S. Attorney Erica Lounsberry.
During the three-hour sentencing, several women told District Judge Pamela Pepper about how Childs befriended them, but through coercion, threats and violence broke down their sense of self until they did everything he asked.
“Tiffany” testified that she was a Certified Nursing Assistant at a hospital when she met Childs in 2015. Initially, she considered him a friend who promised to take care of her. She left her job but for the next two years, she said she was subjected to “sexual torture and beaten and until I caved and performed sex acts I didn’t want to do.”
Other victims said they had young children who heard Childs beat them in another room for not complying with his demands.
Childs had his women tattooed with his name on their necks showing “the world that the victim is the property of the pimp,” Lounsberry wrote the court.
The women testified that they particularly hated that and some had it removed at their expense after his arrest in early 2018.
A woman who cooperated with law enforcement said Wednesday that she “wasn’t the first woman (Childs) ruined” but “I made damn sure I was the last.”
Childs pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of sex trafficking by force or coercion and has remained in custody in Dodge, Waukesha and Kenosha county jails since.
Childs’ case shows that prostitution and pimps isn’t just an urban problem but a concern across the state.
Milwaukee is a well-known “training ground for pimps. The Harvard of pimp school,” Lounsberry wrote. “Milwaukee pimps take what they learned there and expand it to other cities. This must stop.”
Childs’ attorney, Daniel Sanders, said his client didn’t act alone in committing crimes and the club owners, bouncers and customers should be considered “co-conspirators” as they all contributed.
Childs said he didn’t intend to hurt any of the women and hoped they receive the help they need.
Pepper called that “a non-apology apology.” She also said that the club owners didn’t coerce the women into committing commercial sex acts and there was no evidence that they knew that Childs was doing so.
The 15-year mandatory minimum sentence was an inadequate punishment considering the length of time over which the offense occurred, the number of women victimized and the impact sex trafficking has on its victims, Pepper said.
“This is one of the most serious offenses I’ve seen in recent years,” she said.
Childs’ sentence is to be followed by five years’ supervised release.
Pepper also imposed a $5,000 special assessment against Childs payable to a fund for victims of sex trafficking. She will also set a restitution hearing to determine any compensation for Childs’ specific victims.
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