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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

December 11, 2009 at 12:41 PM

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Man who helped run prostitution ring sentenced to nine years in prison

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

Shawn Clark, who authorities say sweet-talked a young girl into working as a prostitute, was sentenced in King County Superior Court today to nine years in prison.

Clark was among six men arrested last year after Seattle police vice officers conducted a sting operation and arrested a 19-year-old woman who had advertised sexual services on Craigslist. Officers soon learned about a prostitution ring that Clark and his brother, DeShawn helped run, and its connection the West Side Street Mobb, a street gang.

In August, Shawn Clark, of Seattle, tearfully pleaded guilty to nine counts, which included charges of promoting prostitution, violation of a domestic-violence protection order, witness tampering and criminal conspiracy.

In court today, Shawn Clark's mother and wife spoke to Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert with the hope that Clark would receive a reduced sentence.

"This is an individual, even after he was arrested, continued to run his prostitution enterprise from the jail," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell said.

Four other men have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their role in the prostitution ring. Last month, a Seattle jury found DeShawn Clark guilty of six charges, including one of two counts of second-degree human trafficking.

DeShawn Clark, 19, took the stand in his own defense during the seven-week trial and denied he was a member of West Side Street Mobb. Clark is the first person in the state to be convicted on state-level human-trafficking charges.

Clark will likely be sentenced next month, O'Donnell. The prosecutors office said he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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