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Webster Ordered to Pay $3.6 Million to Victims in Sex Trafficking Case

U.S. Attorney’s Office April 09, 2009
  • District of Alaska (907) 271-5071

ANCHORAGE—Acting United States Attorney Kevin R. Feldis announced that on April 8, 2009, Don Arthur Webster Jr., also known as “Jerry Starr,” was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage to pay $3,615,750 in restitution, payable to the 11 victims who were underage or forced and/or coerced by Webster into commercial sex transactions.

Webster was previously sentenced on August 15, 2008, to 360 months in prison for sex trafficking of minors and adults, as well as drug trafficking offenses. Webster, age 51, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland. Webster was also placed on lifetime supervised release following his prison term.

Webster was convicted by a federal jury on February 5, 2008, in the first sex trafficking trial in the District of Alaska. After 11 days of testimony, the jury found Webster guilty on two counts of sex trafficking of a minor; nine counts of sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, or coercion; two counts of distributing crack cocaine to a pregnant woman; four counts of distributing crack cocaine to individuals under the age of 21; and eight counts of distributing crack cocaine. Webster was also convicted of one count of maintaining a premises for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine, and one count of manufacturing crack cocaine.

Judge Holland issued a 16 page written order addressing the restitution order on April 1, 2009, and he imposed the restitution on Webster in person at the final sentencing hearing on April 8, 2009. The order, which cited evidence of the profits the defendant had reaped from exploiting the victims for commercial sex acts, marked the culmination of several months of post-sentencing restitution litigation to enforce the mandatory restitution provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

District of Alaska Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey Renschen and Kim Sayers-Fay, and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Alexandra Gelber worked the case along with special agents from the FBI and the Vice Unit of the Anchorage Police Department, as part of the Alaska Human Trafficking Task Force.

The case against Webster revealed that he operated sham escort businesses that were fronts for prostitution in the Anchorage area. The evidence at trial established that Webster would target children and women who were homeless, in low-paying jobs, or runaways and invite them to work for his purported “escort services”—“Foxy Roxies,” “Sunshine Girls,” “American Beauties,” “Kotton Kandy,” “Tiffani’s,” “Tickle Your Fancy,” and “Lickety Split”—businesses where an individual would supposedly pay for another person’s “time and company.” Evidence at trial further proved that in exchange for money from clients who called the escort services’ phone lines, Webster would provide adult women and underage girls to engage in sex acts. According to testimony, the prostitution business operated on an “out call” basis, meaning that the females would meet the caller at his residence or at a hotel paid for by the caller. Callers agreed in advance to pay a fixed hourly rate plus a transportation fee to meet the woman, and then would pay additional money in exchange for sex acts or drugs which Webster provided. The youngest victim testified that she was 13 when she began engaging in commercial sex acts for Webster and that she continued to do so for two years. The other minor who was similarly victimized was 17 years old. The evidence also established that the women were required to give Webster all of the money they earned. When they returned from a “date,” they would receive an “issue,” which was approximately a gram of crack cocaine. In their testimony, the victims described going on up to 10 dates per day, every day, with no days off. They would work up to five days in a row without sleeping. All of the victims testified that they were addicted to crack cocaine when they were involved with the prostitution business. The women all lived in houses in the Anchorage area that Webster paid for and he imposed rules on them during their residence. They could not have any visitors, nor talk to anyone outside of the “family.” According to testimony, they could not purchase anything without his knowledge, and had to provide receipts if they did. They also could not talk to men unless they were getting paid, and they could not obtain drugs from anyone other than Webster. The women were given an alias to use in connection with the so-called escort services. They called the defendant “Daddy” or “Jerry.” Many of them never knew his real name. According to witnesses’ testimony, Webster would physically assault and abuse the women in various ways. For example, the victims testified that Webster would often assault one woman in front of the others in order to make an example of her. Victims described being repeatedly choked, punched, slapped, bound, and strip-searched by Webster or someone acting at his direction. He also threatened to pour boiling water on one victim while another was in the room. In another incident, when one victim left the house, Webster found her and dragged her back by her hair. Additionally, two victims described being locked in “the box,” a small crawl space or closet, as punishment for disrespecting him. Furthermore, several victims described a “family” meeting where Webster dragged one young woman into a room, out of the other victims’ sight. The witnesses said they could hear the sounds of the resulting beating, and described how that woman emerged bruised and bloody, with chunks of her hair missing. One victim also described Webster raping her, and several others testified that Webster insisted on having sex with them.

The restitution is believed to be the largest ever imposed against a defendant for sex trafficking.

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