Hill District man pleads guilty to child sex trafficking
By Brian Bowling
Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
The first person to plead guilty to child sex trafficking in Western Pennsylvania almost didn't.
William Miller, 37, of the Hill District had a plea bargain with the government in which he would admit he recruited a 15-year-old girl into prostitution and would get a guaranteed 12-year prison sentence. Child sex trafficking carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life.
Part of the plea process required Miller to agree with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Smolar's summary of the crime: that he knew the victim was a minor, that he kept her at his residence, gave her money to advertise on the classified ad website pittsburgh.backpage.com and that he took part of the money she received from johns.
While he agreed to most of that, he denied knowing she was a minor or that she planned to have sex on Feb. 10, 2012, when he drove her to the Quality Inn in Oakland.
“No,” he said the first time U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose asked him.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Linda Cohn said that while Miller was prepared to plead guilty, he never admitted he knew the girl was underage. Ambrose said she couldn't accept his plea if Miller didn't believe he was guilty.
“I need him to tell me what he did,” she said.
Miller reluctantly went through the details of meeting the girl at a bus stop and agreeing to escort her in return for half of the money she earned having sex.
“I met her. She was a prostitute. She was on backpage. She was working for some guy,” Miller said. “It sounded like I could make some money.”
Under his plea bargain, Miller will get 12 years in prison and five years of probation when Ambrose sentences him on March 27.
Several of his family members said after the hearing that they felt Miller was coerced into pleading to more of a crime than he committed.
Romir Miller, his brother, said that they agree he broke the law.
“Wrong is wrong,” he said.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Bradley Orsini said he couldn't comment on the victim in the case, which was a joint investigation conducted by the FBI and Pittsburgh police. Miller's case is the first conviction of an effort by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition to crack down on child prostitution, he said.
“We started an initiative about 18 months ago to focus on finding victims of child sex trafficking,” he said.
Carlow University psychology professor Mary Burke founded the coalition in 2005.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Orpik rises to occasion as Penguins take down Capitals once again
- Figure skating coach dies in crash at Washington County Airport
- Students prepare for robotics competitions
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Police charge Westmoreland County priest in $124,000 theft case
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto proposes $16M for schools to boost population
- Elizabeth Forward school director accused in coin, jewelry theft
- Memo confirms VA Pittsburgh officials knew of Legionella threat early on
- Can Pirates star outfielder McCutchen be even better in 2014?
- Primary challenges revealed