The Utah attorney general’s office arrested and charged a man Wednesday for crimes consisting of five first-degree felonies, including human trafficking, after he allegedly forced two women into prostitution.
James Savage Brown has a lengthy criminal history both in Utah and California, according to a news release from the office. He has been charged in Utah’s 3rd District Court with human trafficking, aggravated kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy and two charges of aggravated exploitation of prostitution.
“In addition to the charges already filed, agents found stolen credit cards, marijuana, and a distributable amount of meth in his possession at the time of his arrest earlier today,” the office said in the release. “The Utah attorney general’s office requested that James Savage Brown’s bail be denied as he poses a risk of danger to the community.”
The women involved in the case are receiving treatment from a partner agency of the Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force.
The first woman whose story is outlined in charging documents says she met Brown at a bus stop in Sandy nearly 10 years ago, after which point he took her to his home and prevented her from leaving for several days. Over the next few years, he compelled her to work for him in the commercial sex industry, threatening her with violence if she refused and coercing her with controlled substances.
Brown would usually require the woman to find her own clients, according to court documents. But when his friends came to buy drugs, he would sometimes force her to have sex with them.
The woman, who is not identified in a probable cause statement, came forward to share her story with investigators from the attorney general’s office after talking to another woman who had allegedly also been victimized by Brown. The two met while serving time at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center.
When investigators interviewed the second woman, she told them she had met Brown in February while staying with a friend at a motel in Salt Lake City. Her friend instructed her to deliver heroin to Brown, who was staying in another room.
After she delivered the drugs, Brown slid a dresser in front of the door and placed a large knife on top. He told the woman she wouldn’t be leaving and raped her repeatedly over the next few days. He reportedly provided her with enough heroin to keep her from getting sick and attempted to recruit her into commercial sex, telling her she’d never have to worry about drugs if she did.
After several days, the motel manager kicked Brown out for failing to pay and threatened to call police. While leaving the motel, the woman jaywalked in front of an officer from the Salt Lake City Police Department and told police she had been raped and sexually abused. Investigators from the attorney general’s office made contact with her in July.
Estimates for how many girls and women are at risk of being trafficked for sex in the United States vary widely, but the Attorney General’s Trafficking in Persons Task Force estimates it is a $32 billion per year industry, second only to drug trafficking in profitability.
However, victims rarely come forward “because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement,” according to the task force.
Anyone with a human trafficking tip can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.