Los Angeles, California - A South Bay man who admitted lying to federal investigators about his conduct with a 16-year-old girl he met online and hired for commercial sex has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for obstructing a sex-trafficking probe being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Long Beach Police Department.
Charles Goswitz, 59, of Torrance, appeared Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. Goswitz, a court videographer who used the online moniker “Baldy Cruiser,” pleaded guilty to the obstruction charge June 22. The case marks the first federal prosecution in the Los Angeles area of a so-called “John” in a teen sex-trafficking investigation and only the second such federal prosecution nationwide.
“Human trafficking inflicts tremendous harm on its victims, especially when those victims are children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We have a duty to protect children from these predators, which includes prosecuting those who purchase children for sex. The significant sentence the defendant received in this case should serve as a warning to adults who engage in this type of criminal conduct. Although this is the first case of its kind in this district, it will not be the last.”
The probe into Goswitz’s activities began in February 2013 after HSI special agents received a lead from the Long Beach Police Department about a missing teen whose father suspected she was involved in commercial sex. During the ensuing investigation, authorities located sexually explicit images of the victim in an advertisement Goswitz posted on Backpage.com soliciting sex.
According to the case affidavit, in April 2013 HSI special agents met with Goswitz to advise the teen was missing and that she was a potential human trafficking victim. The affidavit states Goswitz denied ever meeting the minor victim, claiming he obtained the photographs of her online. Two months later, HSI special agents again questioned Goswitz, at which time he admitted engaging in commercial sex acts with the victim. Additionally, Goswitz acknowledged he had contacted the victim after his initial meeting with investigators. He further confirmed he had the minor victim and other females with whom he engaged in commercial sex acts pose for explicit photos wearing t-shirts saying “I love Baldy Cruiser.” He then posted those images on Internet sex forums as proof of his sexual exploits.
“This case should put commercial sex patrons on notice,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Those who pay for sex with minors are contributing in no small way to the current epidemic of teen and child sex-trafficking. The clients in these cases are, for all intents and purposes, as culpable as the actual traffickers and we intend to hold them accountable for their actions.”
Judge O’Connell ordered Goswitz to surrender in 60 days to begin serving his sentence. Upon completion of his prison term, Goswitz will be subject to five years’ supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.