A woman once facing a possible life prison sentence for allegedly pimping a 17-year-old girl in Grand Forks tearfully thanked the judge and hugged the prosecutor after receiving no jail time in a case even the prosecutor called unusual.
Amanda Stewart, 22, was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation and 70 hours of community service on a lesser charge of criminal facilitation, the Grand Forks Herald reported (http://bit.ly/10CqefA ).
Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Jason McCarthy said he had never had a case in which such a serious felony was adjusted down to what will end up being a misdemeanor if Stewart successfully completes probation.
Stewart and two men were charged last August with felony human trafficking of an underage girl. Prosecutors said Stewart and Joshua Harry, 27, pimped the girl to several men in Grand Forks in March and April 2011, after Travis Johnson, 30, had first convinced the girl to work as a prostitute.
Harry and Johnson last week each pleaded guilty to lesser felony charges and face up to five years in prison when they are sentenced later this year.
Stewart's deal called for a yearlong sentence, but McCarthy ended up recommending no jail time. He told the judge he made the decision after learning more about Stewart's childhood, which her attorney, Darla Schuman, said had left her ill-equipped to handle life on her own.
Schuman told Sonja Clapp that Stewart had led a sheltered life in a conservative, religious home, in Emerado and Devils Lake. Her father is a former police officer and a fundamentalist Baptist pastor, and Stewart was home-schooled and did not develop friendships growing up, the attorney said.
Stewart "was very naïve," when she got to know Harry and Johnson in 2010, experienced criminals who knew how to manipulate women, Schuman said. Stewart was brought up to obey the men in her life, so when her boyfriend, Harry, told her to help pimp the girl, she did it, the attorney said.
Clapp asked McCarthy if the victim, now 19, approved of Stewart not serving jail time. McCarthy said the victim "is embarrassed" by the case and did not want it to go to trial.