United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
HARVEY BARTLE, III, Judge.
Defendant Rahim McIntyre has been indicted on three counts of sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591. Count I of the indictment charges that defendant recruited or enticed a minor under the age of 18 to work for him as a prostitute. Counts II and III, in contrast, describe defendant's female victims as persons, without reference to their ages, where force, fraud and coercion were involved in connection with commercial sex activity. The defendant has now moved under Rule 12(b)(2) and (3) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to dismiss Counts II and III on the ground that these counts, unlike Count I, do not identify as minors the persons recruited or enticed into commercial sex acts. It is defendant's position that § 1591 applies only to victims of sex trafficking under 18 years of age and not to those who are adults.
We must first turn to the words of the statute itself. Where the language is plain, that ends our analysis as long as the result is not absurd. Jimenez v. Quarterman , 555 U.S. 113, 118 (2009); Lamie v. U.S. Trustee , 540 U.S. 526, 534 (2004). The statute provides in relevant part:
(a) Whoever knowingly-
(1) in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, or maintains by any means a person; or
(2) benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of paragraph (1),
knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion described in subsection (e)(2), or any combination of such means will be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act, or that the person has not attained the age of 18 years and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
18 U.S.C. § 1591(a).
The statute is clear and does not produce an absurd result. Section 1591(a) focuses on two separate criminal violations involving commercial sex acts. The first makes it a crime for anyone to recruit or entice a person to engage in a commercial sex act, "knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats of force, fraud, [or] coercion... will be used to cause the [victimized] person to engage" in such an act. Significantly, this portion of the statute does not limit the definition of the victimized person to one under 18 years old.
Section 1591(a) also prohibits anyone from recruiting or enticing a person, "knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact... that the [victimized] person has not attained the age of 18 years and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act...." In contrast to the earlier prong of the statute, the recruitment or enticement here into commercial sex activity specifically references a minor and is not limited to situations where force, fraud or coercion plays a part.
Section 1591(b) provides the punishment for violations of § 1591(a). Section § 1591(b) states:
(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) is-
(1) if the offense was effected by means of force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion described in subsection (e)(2), or by any combination of such means, or if the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, or obtained had not attained the age of 14 years at the time of such offense, by a fine under this title and imprisonment for any term of years not less than 15 or for life; or
(2) if the offense was not so effected, and the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, or obtained had attained the age of 14 years but had not attained the age of 18 years at the time of such offense, by a fine under this ...