A Tampa-area man has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for sex trafficking on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that it wasn’t necessary for the defendant to physically beat those under his control, the Tampa Bay Times reports (paywall alert).
Andrew Blane Fields, 62, used prescription narcotics to control the girls and women he forced into prostitution, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew’s ruling that his behavior violated the sex-trafficking law sets a new precedent that will aid prosecutors going forward.
Fields was convicted of forcing the women into prostitution in exchange for additional drugs after they started experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. Despite the abuse, one victim says she still loves her former captor. But the others expressed relief after the sentencing.
Bucklew called Fields a "predator” who looked for vulnerable young women to exploit.
Fields was arrested in March after authorities found approximately 9,000 prescription pills in his home. He was convicted in November. His defense argued for a lesser sentence because some of the victims had prior histories with prostitution and prescription drug abuse.
Fields indicated he plans to appeal.