PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Prosecutors in Multnomah County are the first in the state to indict a case using a new law that makes purchasing sex with a minor a felony.
Moises Gomez-Palestina, 47, was recently indicted by a grand jury on one count each of purchasing sex with a minor and patronizing a prostitute. He has since plead not guilty to the indictment and is pending trial.
Purchasing sex with a minor, a class C-felony, resulted from Senate Bill 673, and was signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber July 2013.
“We want it recognized by the community and the public that this is an issue, and children are being prostituted and sexually trafficked,” deputy district attorney Kelley Cloyd said.
Before the law was passed, purchasing sex with a minor was considered a misdemeanor and fell under the state’s law of patronizing a prostitute.
Under the new law, a person convicted is subject to mandatory 30 days in jail, a $10,000 fine and probation, and will also be required to attend a John school.
“It’s actually much more of an intensive program and involves an evaluation through the sex offender department for parole and probation,” Cloyd said.
Cloyd is a member of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Team. Court record show the grand jury issued its indictment against Gomez-Palestina July 11, 2014.
Portland police said officers with the East Precinct Prostitution Coordination Team caught Gomez-Palestina during an online mission attempting to purchase sex with a decoy minor.
“It gives law enforcement a tool to get these guys off the streets who are looking to purchase minors without victimizing a child,” Cloyd said, speaking generally of law enforcement internet missions.
Cloyd said the DA’s Office is committed to fighting human sex trafficking.
“There are kids that are trafficked in from foreign countries, but these are our children that are here,” Cloyd said.
The DA’s Office is working closely with victim advocates and community-based groups to provide resources to youth and adults who are victims of human sex trafficking.
“We want to give them as many support services as possible to make it possible for them to get out of the life,” Cloyd said.