CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal sex trafficking trial continues this week, with young prostitutes testifying about the lives they led under the thumb of an alleged pimp.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Datqunn Sawyer, 32, who goes by the nickname “P Child,” is on trial for charges of sex trafficking in underage girls. He is said to have given them all nicknames that started with the letter P like his own nickname.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
One of his alleged prostitutes, a 19-year-old girl who went by the name of “Pooh,” testified that when she was just 12, Sawyer befriended her and took her to his apartment where he lived with at least half a dozen other girls. She saw him throw a girl down a set of stairs, breaking her arm, she said.
Pooh, whose real name is Angelique, was soon put on the streets to prostitute herself, and even given a quota – she had to have sex with five to 15 men every day, she testified.
Sometimes, when she had a “good day,” she said she was rewarded with McDonald’s.
As the months wore on, there was one day, after Sawyer dropped her off at the so-called “track” along Cicero Avenue that she testified she just couldn’t do it. She took off her high heels, sat down on the concrete and wept, she said.
That’s when she said Sawyer appeared from the alley.
“You stupid bitch, you’re supposed to be making my money!” she said he snapped at her. He grabbed her discarded heel and beat her head with it until she started bleeding, she said. She ran off to her grandmother’s house.
But like many of the girls who lived in an apartment with Sawyer at Augusta Boulevard and Pulaski Road on the city’s West Side, Angelique returned.
Angelique, now 19, turned in her witness chair and wiped away tears after Sawyer’s lawyer David Peilet, asked if anyone forced her to go back to Sawyer.
“He had all my information. He had my birth certificate … he knew everything about me.” Angelique then yelled in court. “I was only a child. I was only a child! Where else was I supposed to go?”
Angelique is among a series of victims who since last week testified to living with Sawyer in a bizarre world that they say began with a promise of love and a future, but devolved quickly to forced sex, verbal berating and physical beatings.
Sawyer impregnated three of them, according to evidence, the babies would then live there, and he even stashed cash in baby swings.
The girls, all 12 to 17 when Sawyer found them, were branded with “P Child” tattoos or with Sawyer’s favorite saying after girls handed him cash from the day: “Chedda make it betta.”
Tatiana, nickname “Paradise,” was 16 when she allegedly started turning tricks for Sawyer. She said even though she left home, she always kept a piece of it with her — so she carried around her teddy bear everywhere she went in public, except when turning tricks.
“I felt disgusted,” Tatiana said of the prostitution. “I felt degraded.”
Shawna, known as “Peaches,” was shown in a surveillance video wearing a strapless, colorful shirt pulled over her large, pregnant belly, shorts hugging her upper thighs. She was pregnant with Sawyer’s baby as she looked to turn tricks, she said, at his demand. “My ankles were hurting. I was tired, it was hot,” the doe-eyed Shawna testified. “We didn’t have no food. I needed to eat. So I needed to work.”
The girls each testified that Sawyer, who didn’t have a job, used a silver-studded leather belt or a heavy, wooden pimp stick to beat the girls.
Sawyer’s formal charges include sex trafficking minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. The conspiracy charge alone carries an automatic 15-year minimum sentence if convicted.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Natasha Korecki contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.