“None of them were forced to enter the life,” he said. “None of them were forced to stay in the life. They were all in the life before they met any pimp named George.”
Wearing a striped dress that revealed her pregnant belly, a 26-year-old woman had a tattoo on her neck that said “King Koby,” a nickname for George Jr., whom she met when she was 19 and working as a prostitute in upstate New York.
“I would say that I make my own choices,” she said. “I am not a dumb person. I know what I’m doing.”
The women have been sexually exploited and stripped of their self-worth, said Norma Ramos, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Ramos said tattoos are commonly seen among sex trafficking victims.
“They’re branding their women. They’re branding their victims,” Ramos said. “They’re treating them like cattle.”
Two of the women used the word “daddy” when describing their relationship with George Jr. in court.
“I’m not a victim towards anything, and I think the best way to show and prove that is for me to be here,” said a 24-year-old woman who began working as a stripper and streetwalker at age 13, according to prosecutors.
One photograph presented by the prosecution shows the woman with a visible black eye in 2007. At the time, she told former prosecutor David Novick that George Jr. caused the injury.
“She said she deserved it, and it wasn’t a big deal,” Novick told the court during his testimony.
For many sex-trafficking victims, their relationship with their abusers is the only source of love they’ve ever experienced, and they’ll do anything to maintain that attention in their lives, said Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.
“I think one of the questions is: Is this what love looks like?” she said.