Previously, I’ve discussed the murder of Desiree Robinson before. She was the 16-year-old girl who was being prostituted on Backpage in the Chicago area. On Christmas Eve of 2016, when 32-year-old Antonio Rosales couldn’t pay her, he allegedly brutally murdered her instead. Her alleged pimp tried to get other women to work for him and reportedly said: “Now that she’s gone, I got no money coming in.” Now, the man who recruited Desiree for her pimp testified in court to how little Desiree’s life was worth to those who were trafficking her.
Back in April, 26-year-old Charles McFee pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of sex trafficking conspiracy for recruiting Desiree into prostitution. McFee expected to get a $250 ‘finder’s fee’ after ‘giving’ Desiree to her alleged pimp, Joseph Hazley. Hazley is still awaiting trial on human trafficking charges for prostituting Desiree on Backpage. In exchange for a lighter sentence, McFee is expected to testify against Hazley.
When people ask why we need legislation like FOSTA and SESTA, Desiree’s story should be the answer why, and her story is only one among multitudes of women and children who have been bought and sold like so much merchandise on Backpage. Not only do websites that facilitate human trafficking need to be held responsible for deaths like Desiree’s, but a message also needs to be sent to every would-be pimp and trafficker who thinks they can make some quick money by selling people into sexual slavery.
Hazley was also allegedly prostituting a 19-year-old the same time he was turning out Desiree on Backpage. At one point, according to the unidentified 19-year-old, he made her watch him and Desiree ‘having sex’ and after Desiree died he asked the other girl to come back to work for him, saying, “Now that she’s gone, I got no money coming in.” Hazley is looking at 10 to life in federal prison. Here’s hoping it’s closer to life than it is to 10.
There’s a whole lot of ‘not caring’ in this tragic story. Rosales obviously didn’t care about the life of Desiree Robinson. Neither did Hazley except when it came to making money. Most importantly Backpage doesn’t care that 16-year-old girls are being peddled on their website as long as the pimps continue to pay for the ads. Desiree did have a family that cared for her and they still do. They’re currently suing Backpage for allowing Desiree to be prostituted. While most of these lawsuits have failed in the past, lawsuits like this may be successful in the future due to the Congressional investigation that found Backpage was editing their ads to make them appear less criminal.
32-year-old Antonio Rosales of Chicago is accused in the murder of 16-year-old Desiree Robinson in Markham, Illinois, on Christmas Eve. Rosales was attending a party in Markham when he saw an ad for Robinson on Backpage. Rosales had sex with Robinson, but when he couldn’t pay her he allegedly punched her and slit her throat. Robinson’s friends went to the house where the party was where they found Robinson’s body and a knife. The autopsy said that Robinson had been beaten and choked before having her throat slit.
While I hope that prosecutors do everything within their power to put this scumbag behind bars for the rest of his unnatural life, I hope they’re also looking to prosecute the people who put Desiree Robinson on Backpage to begin with. While some may argue that Ms. Robinson was on Backpage by choice, I find that very hard to believe. The first thing that indicates to me that she was being trafficked is that she had been reported missing as a runaway since November 29th. Pimps and traffickers often convince their underage victims to run away with promises of a life of luxury. Ms. Robinson’s mother also said that Desiree had contacted her but couldn’t tell her mother where she was. Victims of sex trafficking often can’t reach out to their family due to threats of violence against them and their family. I also have to wonder if her ‘friends’ were her pimp and enforcers. A number of prostitutes often travel with a ‘security guard’. They’re supposed to make sure that not only does the prostitute collect the money for the pimps, but they’re also supposed to make sure that the prostitute doesn’t run off. Sounds a lot like slavery doesn’t it?
As far as I’m concerned, whoever turned her out on Backpage is as equally culpable in her death as Rosales allegedly is. This isn’t even taking into account that Backpage once again allowed a minor to be sold for sex on their website which led to her violent death. Just another drop of blood money in their already overflowing coffers.
UPDATE 2/7/2017: The family of Desiree Robinson have made it known that they plan on suing Backpage for Desiree’s death. I hope they’re successful in that endeavor, however history is not on their side as all similar lawsuits filed against Backpage were dismissed.