A Carrollton man who pleaded guilty to criminal street gang offenses and related charges for pimping minors for sex out of a Marietta motel was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Jaylan Lamond Bennett, now 21, pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of violation of Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act based upon sex trafficking and related offenses, two counts of pimping for person under 18, and possession of a firearm by first offender probationer, Cobb Acting District Attorney John Melvin announced Monday.
The charges stem from February 2016, when Bennett, as a member of the Squad Life gang, exploited two minor females, including a 16-year-old runaway, for several days and trafficked them for sexual servitude. A few weeks later, the girl returned home and made initial disclosures about the exploitation, according to Kim Isaza, spokesperson for the DA’s office.
The trafficking occurred at what was then operating as a Ramada Inn on Powers Ferry Place, just north of Delk Road and east of Interstate 75, according to Bennett’s warrant.
Marietta Police detectives found evidence, including advertisements and social media postings, indicating that she and the other girl were being trafficked by Bennett, and that he had possessed a firearm, Isaza said. The evidence showed that Bennett intimidated and threatened the girls to keep them from reporting the acts to their family or the police.
The now-19-year-old victim has moved out of state and did not want to travel back to Georgia for trial, as is common in many cases of this nature, Isaza said. However, detectives and the district attorney’s office were able to use other tools to successfully prosecute Bennett for his acts even without the victim voluntarily coming back to testify.
“While we have understood the nexus between gang activity and sex trafficking for some time now, this is one of the first times we have been able to utilize the criminal street gang act and accompanying sexual exploitation statutes together to attack this problem,” Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring said in Monday’s news release, who along with Assistant District Attorney Courtney Veal prosecuted the case.
“These crimes are a scourge in our community,” Boring said. “This plea and sentence should send the message that this behavior will not be tolerated in Cobb County, and that the difficulties inherent in bringing justice to victims of these cases will not stop us from holding those who exploit these victims accountable.”
After accepting the plea, Cobb Superior Court Judge Ann Harris sentenced Bennett to 30 years, with 13 years to serve in prison and the balance on probation. He will be subject to sex-offender and gang conditions upon his release. At the time of these crimes, Bennett was on first-offender probation for a robbery charge in Cobb in 2015.
Smyrna attorney Kevin Rodgers represented Bennett, who was arrested on these charges in Columbia, Missouri, and has remained in custody since May 2016.