On Friday, February 28, 2020, West York Police, with the assistance of the US Marshall’s Service York Joint Task Force, arrested 45-year-old Takanii Dante Beatty and charged him with five felonies and two misdemeanors: forcible rape, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, patronizing a victim of sexual servitude, corruption of minors, patronizing prostitutes and the furnishing of liquor to a minor, according to the West York Police Department.
According to media reports, the arrest followed a January 28, 2020 police interview, in which agents obtained confirmation from an unidentified man in whose apartment Beatty allegedly committed the felonious offenses. The unidentified witness told the police that he discovered Beatty in his apartment with a 13-year-old girl and a woman. The witness confessed taking the woman to his bedroom and leaving Beatty with the child in the living room.
On December 28, 2019, Beatty allegedly picked up the 13-year-old victim and a woman. He then drove the two of them to the unidentified witness’ apartment, where it is reported that Beatty forced the victim to drink excessive amounts of Cognac and subsequently forced the minor to shower with the accompanying woman. It is alleged that Beatty proceeded to isolate and forcibly rape the 13-year-old, whereupon he gave her $120.00 in cash and promptly left, according to the West York Police Department.
Judge Albright of York County set Beatty’s bail at $100,000.00. Beatty failed to post bail and is currently being held at York County Prison, where he awaits his preliminary hearing currently scheduled for May 5, 2020.
Rather than charging Beatty for the offense of Patronizing a Victim of Sexual Servitude, the CSE Institute suggests that Beatty be charged with Trafficking in Minors. The current charge for Patronizing a Victim of Sexual Servitude presents several problems: it undermines the very nature of the alleged acts, unnecessarily burdens the prosecution and overlooks Pennsylvania and Federal law regarding the alleged facts of this case.
“Soliciting,” “obtaining” or “harboring” a minor for any sexual act constitutes trafficking. Both Federal and Pennsylvania law underscore that buyers and attempted buyers of commercial sex with minors “engage in trafficking activities essential to the crime of trafficking.”
However, under Beatty’s current charges, the prosecution needs to prove that the alleged offender satisfied the knowledge requirement of the statute, that he knew his alleged acts with the victim were “the result of [her] being a victim of human trafficking.” This requirement presents an encumbering redundancy for the prosecution. Why waste resources and time attempting to prove what the law already assumes as fact: no child can consent to being sold for sex, and a buyer’s conscious disregard of this fact is as substantially unjustifiable and grossly deviant as his knowledge of it.
Under the expansive definition of Sex Trafficking in Minors, prosecutors need only prove that the defendant engaged in any of the listed acts, which could include soliciting, enticing, harboring, obtaining or even transporting a minor who is or will be subject to sexual servitude. Patronizing a Victim of Sexual Servitude limits the offender’s conduct to any sex act or performance; however, the statutory language for Sex Trafficking in Minors aligns more expansively with the intent of the Pennsylvania legislature, which is to fully end sex trafficking, not just a few certain acts within the entire criminal sex trade.
In order to demonstrate a person is a victim of sexual servitude, the prosecution must prove that the alleged offender acted with force, fraud or coercion. However, under Pennsylvania and Federal law, all minors who are commercially sexually exploited are inherently victims of sex trafficking, which means that force, fraud or coercion are not elements of the crime. No child can consent to being sold for sex, and any commercial sex act involving a minor constitutes sex trafficking.
The CSE Institute commends the West York Police Department and the York County District Attorney’s office for their work in investigating and prosecuting this horrific crime against a child. Yet, charging Beatty with a statute that unnecessarily requires the prosecution to prove the defendant’s knowledge, rather than charging him with Trafficking in Minors, jeopardizes the hard work that has already been accomplished. The crimes that Beatty allegedly committed are egregious and depraved. As one Montgomery County judge said in an August 2019 sentencing hearing, the crime of Trafficking in Minors is “a predatory crime. It’s a crime of greed; it’s a crime of exploitation, and it’s a crime that poses a danger to the community.”
If the allegations prove true, no amount of jail time assigned to Beatty will make up for the time during which the child was subjected to such abject exploitation; however, prosecuting the alleged crimes with every force and tool of the law cannot be underestimated in the healing and empowering validation the prosecution can play for the child. Society can work at recreating justice for victims of sexual trafficking, starting with the diligent, careful and steadfast prosecution of the alleged perpetrator.