Woman sentenced in Glenwood hotel sex trafficking case
A 26-year-old Denver woman was sentenced to probation Thursday, concluding the prosecution of three cases stemming from a sex trafficking scheme that operated in Glenwood Springs during the summer of 2017.
Damara Hester was sentenced to three years probation with a number of stipulations, and will be required to register as a sex offender. That’s a requirement for pleading guilty to keeping a place of prostitution, a class 3 felony.
The prostitution ring involved two minors who were sold for sex out of a Glenwood Springs hotel in July 2017 by Hester and codefendant Dasjuan Goode, who accepted a plea deal in August and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October.
Ron Braden of Edwards pleaded guilty to misdemeanor solicitation of a prostitute and contributing to the delinquency of a minor purchasing sex with one of the victims, age 17 at the time, and sentenced to probation in December.
The three guilty pleas mean that the victims in the case will not have to testify at trial.
Public defender Elise Myer said Hester “is a victim as much as she is an offender,” and had experienced significant trauma from being part of the sex industry and coming from a family associated with gangs.
Myer mentioned the recent Battlement to the Bells Anti-Human Trafficking summit in Rifle, where several speakers said that addressing human trafficking will require reducing the demand for commercial sex.
“Mr. Braden, who did purchase sex from a minor, did not plead to a sex offense,” Myer said.
“It’s my understanding that (Braden) will not have to do nearly the same type of work on himself” that Hester will have to do, Myer told the judge.
Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake said Hester showed a lack of remorse for her role in victimizing the two teenage girls.
Drake said Hester has opportunities to change her life, but if she doesn’t her son and unborn child could be at risk.
“If she continues down this path, she will continue to be involved in the cycle of children being separated from parents,” Drake said.
As part of probation, Hester is required to avoid drugs and go to regular therapy.
Her internet usage will also be monitored and Hester is not allowed to access other illicit websites like BackPage, which was apparently used in this case to advertise paid sex.
“You are very young, Ms. Hester. You can do this. You can get away from your past,” Judge Denise Lynch said.
Hester declined to make a statement at the sentencing hearing.
Lynch advised Hester to study for a GED or vocational certification, and avoid drugs and gangs.
“Don’t let any pimps take advantage of you anymore,” Lynch said.
“Yes ma’am,” Hester replied.
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