THE U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the ruling of the District Court for the NMI against Annette Nakatsuka Basa who was sentenced to 210 months in jail for sex trafficking.
Ninth Circuit Judges Susan P. Graber, Jay S. Bybee and Morgan Christen said the enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2G1.3(b)(4)(A) for an offense that involved the commission of a sex act with a child, applies whether or not the defendant herself engaged in that act.
The judges noted that in exchange for money and drugs, Basa provided housing for two 15-year-old girls and facilitated their having sex with adult men.
According to the judges, the District Court did not engage in impermissible double counting by applying both the § 2G1.3(b)(4)(A) enhancement and an enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2G1.3(b)(2)(B) which applies when a defendant unduly influenced a minor to engage in prohibited sexual conduct
Basa appealed to the Ninth Circuit and argued that first, the law does not apply to her because she did not commit a sex act with either victim.
Court-appointed lawyer Steven P. Pixley represented the defendant while the federal government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Garth R. Backe and Ross K. Naughton.
Basa received a jail sentence of 17.5 years from District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Dec. 6, 2014.
Court records show that in 2013, two homeless 15-year-old girls moved into the defendant’s home and the defendant gave them methamphetamine. She also introduced the girls to several adult men and encouraged them to have sex with the men. In return for facilitating these sexual encounters with the girls, the men gave the defendant money or methamphetamine. The girls were sometimes compensated with food and, at other times, with nothing at all.
In June 2013, a concerned citizen contacted the local police about the sexual abuse of the two girls, later supplying video footage showing an adult man engaged in sexual intercourse with the two girls.
When interviewed, the girls reported that the defendant arranged for them to have sex with the adult men who gave them meth and told them to deny being underage or being sold for sexual purposes.
The girls told police that the defendant sometimes demanded they have sex with the men, threatening to throw them out of the house if they refused.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation stepped in which led to the defendant’s arrest.
Basa admitted to the accusations and a grand jury indicted her on two counts of sex trafficking of children. The defendant entered into a plea agreement and pled guilty to one count of sex trafficking. At the sentencing, Basa presented evidence that she suffered from reduced mental capacity because of her intellectual disability which was made worse by post-traumatic stress disorder from her own history of sexual abuse.
Judge Manglona denied the defendant’s motion for a reduction in her sentence, stating that the defendant had failed to demonstrate that her diminished capacity contributed to the commission of the offense.