Beaverton man gets 30 years for pimping, prostituting 13-year-old girl through strip club
Prosecutor calls Stars Cabaret case a window to wider sex trafficking problem
A 30-year sentence imposed on Victor Moreno-Hernandez Thursday for sexually abusing and prostituting a 13-year-old girl from Beaverton exotic dance club Stars Cabaret in 2012 provides a window into a culture of illicit activity occurring in and around Portland each and every day.
"This case is a very good example of the type of activity happening, not just in Beaverton, but the entire Portland metro area and beyond," said Washington County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Barton, who prosecuted the case against Moreno-Hernandez earlier this month. "It just happens to be that this case received publicity. We've filed many cases that happened before this that don't receive publicity. This happens to be the case that everyone notices."
Washington County Circuit Judge Thomas Kohl on Thursday sentenced Moreno-Hernandez, a 28-year-old Beaverton resident, to 30 years and 10 months for his conviction on 13 counts, including first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree rape, compelling a minor into prostitution and unlawful delivery of methamphetamine to a minor.
Kohl also added a financial component to the sentence, requiring Moreno-Hernandez, as well as former Stars Cabaret Manager Steven Toth, to pay a compensatory fine of $150,000 for profiting off the victim. Toth was sentenced on Sept. 17 to 15 years in prison based on a plea agreement for his role in prostituting the 13-year-old, employing her as a stripper and having her perform sex acts for customers of the club.
Toth and Moreno-Hernandez shared the money made by prostituting the victim, Kohl noted in court. Based on Toth's testimony, the judge characterized Stars as a criminal enterprise." The victim, who is now 15, testified against her former pimp.
A third man, Yahir Muniz, who was unconnected with the other two, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for sexually abusing the same victim.
Judge Kohl was forced to quiet Moreno-Hernandez when he erupted in an angry outburst during his four-day jury trial. The previously convicted sex offender faced a possible sentence of six to nearly 80 years.
"I think the judge did a good job," Barton said. "Considering everything, he imposed a very fair and just sentence."
An investigation into the case was prompted by the victim sharing her experiences from 2012 with her therapist in September 2013. The counselor contacted police. Beaverton detectives first met with the victim in October, and charges were filed against the men in December 2013.
Noting difficulties in pursuing a case based on past activities conducted behind closed doors, Barton praised the tenacity of Beaverton police and the investigators involved.
"This case certainly involved the investigation of criminal activity without knowing where it began and ended," he said. "In the beginning of the case, investigators didn't know if it was limited to a specific individual or something broader."
The department utilized a range of resources, including undercover officers, suspect and employee interviews and surveillance, to form a solid case for the prosecution.
"The Beaverton Police Department did an amazing job investigating the case," Barton said. "They looked at everything there was to look at and did all that could be done to uncover these crimes."
The recent convictions and sentences are indicative of a much larger regional epidemic involving sexual and physical abuse and prostitution of young girls.
"This type of activity continues, as does active investigation into similar cases," Barton said. "This is a good example of why our community needs to pay more attention to these type of crimes.
"Does it continue to happen? Yes," Barton added. "Are there other cases involving children at these types of (adult) establishments? The answer is 'Yes.'"
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