SAN DIEGO–A 33-year-old convicted sex offender was sentenced in federal court to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 16-year-old minor female by force in 2014.
Luther Gene Ray, aka “Pumpkin,” of Hemet, was found guilty after jury trial in December 2015 for one count of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion and one count increased penalties for sex offenders.
The victim was a runaway girl. She met Ray at a local retail store within 30 days of his release from federal prison. Ray had previously been convicted of the same crime in Los Angeles back in 2007 and thus, was required to register as a sex offender. Ray served just 8 years on the prior offense and was on supervised release during the time. Ray lured the victim to work as a prostitute as a way to make money for herself.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that the victim received none of the money she earned through prostitution while Ray received thousands of dollars from the victim as well as at least three other women working as prostitutes for Ray. Ray used social media such as Facebook to brag about his lifestyle. The victim testified that Ray assaulted her – and other women in front of her – if they even looked at another man who might be a pimp. Law enforcement was alerted to Ray’s illicit activities after the victim called police while in juvenile hall.
As a result of Ray’s status as a sex offender, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez was required to impose an additional 10 years in custody. In imposing the 40-year sentence, Judge Benitez said the sentence will send a message that sexually exploiting women and girls through violence will not be tolerated.
“This defendant terrorized and traumatized his 16-year-old victim, and now he will pay a very serious price for his crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to detect and prosecute persons who engage in sex trafficking, a form of modern day slavery”.
“The sentence imposed on this defendant is a genuine reflection of both the horrific victimization suffered by these young girls and the terrible impact that this type of criminal behavior has on the life and the well-being of our communities,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum said. “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue the perpetrators of this type of heinous conduct with all of the resources available to us.”