The United States Department of Justice, United Stated Attorney's Office District of Minnesota
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 7, 2021
Federal Jury Finds Illinois Man Guilty of Sex Trafficking
MINNEAPOLIS – A federal jury found an Illinois man guilty of sex trafficking a woman and transporting another woman to engage in prostitution, announced Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk.
Following a four-day trial before Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, Darnell Deshawn Stennis, 29, was convicted of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, transporting an individual to engage in prostitution, and obstruction.
According to the evidence presented at trial, between January and March 2019, Stennis transported a woman between Minnesota and North Dakota for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. During this same time, Stennis used threats and physical violence to force another woman into performing commercial sex acts.
On March 25, 2019, officers with the Bloomington Police Department were dispatched to the La Quinta Inn in Bloomington, Minnesota, following a report that a hotel guest heard yelling and what sounded like someone being thrown against a wall. Upon arrival, officers encountered Stennis and the two women, identified as Victim A and Victim B. Officers checked the hotel room and observed obvious signs of a disturbance, including a toilet seat that was broken into multiple pieces and a towel rack that was bent. Victim A reported to officers that Stennis had violently assaulted her after she told him she didn’t want to engage in commercial sex work anymore. Victim A reported that Stennis choked her, bashed her head into the towel rack, and pushed her down onto the toilet seat. Stennis, who also had outstanding warrants, was arrested and placed into custody.
“Darnell Stennis is a violent sex trafficker whose singular goal was to make money by gaining physical, emotional, and financial control over his victims. I commend the trial team and our investigative partners who built a strong case against this defendant and brought him to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk.
“The damage inflicted upon survivors of this form of sexual exploitation is immeasurable. The victims are subject to multiple forms of trauma, which never fully fade,” said Jamie G. Holt, acting special agent in charge of HSI St. Paul. “Stennis used violent assault, fear, coercion, and control to abuse and exploit two people for nothing more than simple greed. HSI special agents remain steadfast in our pursuit of all those who perpetrate this modern-day slavery.”
This case is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Bloomington Police Department.
This case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson, Manda M. Sertich, and Evan B. Gilead.