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October 03, 2007
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Feds hit MySpace pimp suspect with child sex trafficking charge

By Gary Klien
The Marin Independent Journal

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. A 32-year-old man accused of pimping a teenage girl in San Rafael after meeting her through MySpace.com is now facing a federal sex trafficking charge.

Melvin Parker Jr., a convicted felon from Richmond, could face 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the federal charge of sex trafficking of children, according to a complaint by the FBI.

The federal government has an interest in the case because Parker allegedly enticed the victim, a 16-year-old runaway from Washington state, across state lines through MySpace, a social networking site. Federal law prohibits using "force, fraud or coercion" to get a minor across state or national boundaries to engage in a "commercial sex act."

Parker, who was arrested in August, has already been charged in Marin Superior Court with soliciting for a prostitute, pandering, unlawful sex, sale or transportation of marijuana and driving without a license. He has pleaded not guilty.

The next hearing in the local case is set for Tuesday, and the county plans to dismiss its charges in favor of the federal prosecution, said Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote. The county jail would then transfer Parker to federal custody, Slote said.

The case began on Aug. 9, when San Rafael police saw the girl trolling for sexual customers in the Canal area. The girl told police she arrived in the Bay Area the previous week to see a man she had met on MySpace.

After she arrived, the man threatened to harm her family if she did not work for him as a prostitute.

Working with police, the girl arranged to meet the man at Burger King in the Canal area. Police arrested Parker when he showed up.

Authorities said Parker put the girl up at the Economy Inn in San Pablo while making her work as a prostitute in Richmond, Concord and San Rafael. The girl was told to charge $50 for oral sex and $80 for intercourse, investigators said.

According to court documents, Parker has a criminal history going back at least 13 years. His convictions include robbery, possession of a firearm by an ex-felon and possession of cocaine base for sale in Contra Costa County; burglary in San Mateo County; possession of marijuana for sale in Sacramento County; and abduction of a minor for the purpose of prostitution in Solano County.

Copyright 2007 Marin Independent Journal

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