The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced on September 26, 2018, that Shyniquah Lightner, 26, of Philadelphia, pled guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a minor. Lightner faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. She also faces a minimum of 5 years up to lifetime-supervised release along with a $500,000 fine.
The Department of Justice’s press release reveals that, between July and September of 2017, Lightner ran a prostitution business in Philadelphia. During those three months, she forced several women to engage in commercial sex acts. Additionally, she advertised women online as available for purchase for purposes of prostitution. The advertisements featured pictures of the women, partially exposed, with a description and a phone number to call to arrange a meeting. Two of the victims coerced and advertised by Lightner were under the age of eighteen.
This case is part of the Philadelphia Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, which was launched in 2016 to combat human trafficking in the Philadelphia-area. The task force was designed to bring together the expertise, training, and experience of the partnered agencies to help identify and prosecute human traffickers while simultaneously protecting and aiding their survivors. Partnered agencies include the Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Salvation Army, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The CSE Institute applauds the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victim’s Unit, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for their efforts in securing this conviction. We also commend the brave survivors for their actions in assisting with securing Lightner’s conviction; they have truly shown incredible strength and courage. Sex trafficking of a minor is an insidious crime and we are encouraged that those responsible are being held properly accountable.
Lightner’s co-defendant, Malik Hudson, 21, of Philadelphia, was also charged with sex trafficking of a minor. A hearing is currently scheduled for November 5, 2018. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Natali is handling the case.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.