Man Convicted Of Human Trafficking

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A North Carolina man was convicted on Nov. 13 of sexual abuse and human trafficking after he allowed men to rape a 12-year-old girl in exchange for money.

Armando Graciano, 43, of Winston-Salem, pleaded guilty to attempted rape of a child, human trafficking, sexual servitude and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Graciano was sentenced to 13 years and one month to 20 years and nine months in prison.

Judge David Hall called the man's actions "evil."

Graciano had no prior felonies on his record before his guilty plea. In Graciano's plea arrangement, he consolidated all of his charges into one for his sentencing.

When Graciano gets out of prison, he will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

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According to Assistant District Attorney Kia Chavious, Graciano raped the girl before allowing other men to rape her in exchange for money. The girl was raped and sexually assaulted numerous times over a two-year period, WGHP reports.

Graciano's co-defendant, Flora Riano Gonzalez, was sentenced in April to a maximum of 16 years in prison for abuse of the same young girl, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

Gonzalez, 39, was convicted of sexual servitude, and two counts of felony child abuse involving prostitution and sexual acts after she allegedly forced the 12-year-old girl into a life of prostitution. A jury found Gonzalez not guilty of human trafficking. Upon Gonzalez's release from prison, she will have to register as a sex offender for 30 years.

"This is an incredibly egregious offense," said Chavious at the time of Gonzalez's conviction. "[Gonzalez] put [the girl] in harm's way time and time again for financial gain. She was treated by all these men like a piece of property."

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The girl had reportedly first been raped by Graciano at a laundromat that he operated, before he allegedly took her to other men who raped her for money. Gonzalez approached the girl in 2011, taking her to apartment complexes and motels where the young girl would have sex with men for money, according to testimony during the trial.

The victim became pregnant at 14 and also contracted chlamydia, a sexually-transmitted disease. After the girl became pregnant, Gonzalez contacted police to report sexual abuse. However, Chavious said that the call was a plot to get a free abortion for the girl, and Gonzalez reportedly told the girl what to say so as not to implicate Gonzalez in the abuse.

Before Gonzalez reported the abuse, she had taken over the role of prostituting the girl from Graciano, who she discovered had been charging more money and not giving Gonzalez a fair cut.

After Gonzalez provided names and numbers of men who had sexually assaulted the girl to police, authorities investigated. Angel Herrera, 34, told police that he had sex with the girl for $150 while Gonzalez was outside the door.

Herrera was sentenced to 10 to 17 years in prison for attempted statutory rape and indecent liberties with a child.

The girl told police that Gonzalez had forced her to become a prostitute, leading police to investigate Gonzalez.

The victim, now 18, is in counseling and says she wants to continue her education.

"I will not let this define me," the victim said.

According to Chavious, she is still struggling with the sexual abuse she suffered.

"These actions were cruel," said Chavious. "They were unconscionable and they were brutal."

Sources: Winston-Salem Journal (2), WGHP / Featured Image: Michael Knapek/Flickr / Embedded Images: Forsyth County Sheriff's Office via Winston-Salem Journal, Dita J.L./Flickr

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