SF sex-trafficking case. Why would judge free defendant? Answer. She didn’t.

Excellent incisive and heartfelt reporting by Heather Knight.  Read the article in full by accessing the link.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 4.14.2019

Spending time inside the decrepit concrete box that is San Francisco’s Hall of Justice is never pleasant, but a hearing there Tuesday was particularly stomach-churning.

The perfunctory meeting in the bland courtroom lasted just a few minutes, but the reason for it couldn’t have been more important. Would a man held over for trial on eight felony counts of pimping and sex trafficking underage girls, and engaging in unlawful sex with a 15-year-old, be released as he awaited trial?

San Francisco Superior Court judges have a reputation for being too lenientin this liberal, live-and-let-live city, where it’s easy to see crimes happen before your eyes. In broad daylight. On crowded streets. With seemingly no repercussions. Think drug dealing, breaking into cars, shoplifting and chopping up stolen bicycles, to name just a few.

At a hearing April 5, Judge Kay Tsenin (photo below)  indicated she was open to releasing him. Despite the fact she’d presided over his December preliminary hearing, which was full of graphic, devastating testimony about his treatment of teenage girls. Despite the fact she had ordered him to stand trial on all the charges. Despite the fact that if he is found guilty at trial, he could face 25 years or more in state prison. Despite him not showing up for past court dates.

Judge Kay Tsenin 4.14.2019.jpg

Tsenin said Stovall would have to wear a GPS monitoring device on his ankle.

But, according to Assistant District Attorney Asha Jameson (top photo), who vehemently fought Stovall’s release, the Sheriff’s Department has just two deputies to monitor the 190 people currently wearing monitoring devices. And the deputies can monitor only where the defendants are, not if they’re committing crimes. And guess who’s responsible for keeping the monitors charged? The defendants!

Perhaps the smartest thing Jameson did was alert advocates for victims of sex trafficking, a few of whom showed up to the hearing. I was there too. Tsenin, whose last day on the job before retiring happened to be Tuesday, ended up making the right decision.

“My job is to protect society, so I’m going to deny your motion,” Tsenin said. “Sorry.”

Don’t be sorry, judge.


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