Crime & Courts

Charlotte man sentenced to 40 years for sex-trafficking 15-year-old girl

A Charlotte man was sentenced to 40 years in prison this week for sex-trafficking a 15-year-old girl.

Kenwaniee Vontorian Tate, a 41-year-old registered sex offender, forced the girl to prostitute herself as they moved from hotel to hotel between September 2014 and February 2015, court records show. The girl was a runaway when she met Tate.

“Tate preyed upon a vulnerable young girl, lured her into a world of sex and violence and exploited her in the worst possible way,” U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said in a statement announcing Tate’s sentence.

“Sex trafficking and victimizing minors for financial gain is a reprehensible crime,” Rose said.” My office will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute sex traffickers who profit from prostituting minors.”

Tate controlled all of the profits from the girl’s prostitution and used it to support himself, according to testimony at his trial. He also controlled the girl, by requiring her to follow his rules and ask his permission to do anything. Tate advertised the girl for sex on an internet website and arranged sexual encounters for her, according to courtroom testimony.

Tate also physically abused the teen by slapping her, punching her in the face, pulling her hair, throwing her to the ground and slamming her head into the wall when she did not do as Tate instructed, records show.

Tate was careful to hit the teen only once in the face because visible bruises affected her ability to make money as a prostitute, according to testimony at his trial.

Tate’s sex-trafficking of the girl ended when Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers arrested him in February 2015 while looking for a different missing minor and found the 15-year-old hiding in his hotel room closet.

Tate was registered as a sex offender in North Carolina based on convictions in Minnesota for criminal sexual conduct. Tate also was convicted previously in a Minnesota federal court for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor for his involvement in a sex trafficking ring. Members of the ring took women and girls from Minnesota to Las Vegas to engage in commercial sex acts, prosecutors said. The judge in that case ordered Tate to serve a 16-month sentence.

At Tate’s sentencing in the Charlotte case on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad also ordered Tate to serve a lifetime of court supervision, continue to register as a sex offender and pay $42,100 restitution to the victim.

Tate has been in federal custody since his arrest in November 2015. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

“Human traffickers strip victims of their humanity; treating them as little more than pieces of meat to generate cash,” Nick Annan, special agent in charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations in Georgia and the Carolinas, said in the statement announcing Tate’s sentence.

“The depravity of the subject in this particular case reaches its lowest form, by forcing underage girls into this dark underworld of abuse and victimization; the public should breathe a sigh of relief that this dangerous criminal is now safely behind bars.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak