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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
September 03, 2014

DA VANCE: SEX TRAFFICKER BENJAMIN GASTON SENTENCED TO 50-YEARS-TO-LIFE IN STATE PRISON

Co-Defendant Johnny Jackson Serving 9-to-18 Years in Prison After Pleading Guilty to Sex Trafficking

Pictured: The view from the 6th floor window from which the victim escaped.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of BENJAMIN GASTON, 37, to 50-years-to-life in state prison for kidnapping and raping a woman whom he held captive for nearly two days in November 2012, trafficking her and forcing her to earn money for him through prostitution. On June 20, 2014, GASTON was convicted by a jury in New York State Supreme Court on all counts in the indictment against him: Sex Trafficking, as well as Kidnapping, Criminal Sexual Act, Rape, Assault, and Sex Abuse, all in the First Degree. Co-defendant JOHNNY JACKSON, 54, previously pleaded guilty to Sex Trafficking for forcing the same woman to engage in prostitution. On August 14, 2014, JACKSON was sentenced to 9-to-18 years in state prison.

“The woman in this case was confronted with an unimaginable choice: to escape out of a 6th floor window or to be raped by multiple strangers,” said District Attorney Vance. “Over the course of approximately 42 hours, she was threatened, beaten, raped, held captive, and sold for profit. No one should have to endure what the survivor in this case went through, but sex traffickers prey on vulnerable women who face similar danger every day. I urge anyone who may be a victim to call our Office’s Human Trafficking hotline at 212-335-3400, and visit the new Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street.”

As proven at GASTON’s trial and according to JACKSON’s guilty plea, at approximately 4 a.m. on November 13, 2012, GASTON brought the 28-year-old victim to JACKSON’s apartment on West 92nd Street. Immediately upon entering the apartment, GASTON told the victim she was going to “make me my money,” and stole her driver’s license, cell phone, and cash. GASTON and JACKSON then raped her, and forced her to perform sexual acts on other men in order to earn her release. After more than 36 hours in captivity, the victim found a phone in the apartment and called 911 multiple times. However, because she could not accurately relay her location, police were unable to respond to the correct apartment. When GASTON discovered the victim using the phone, he beat her.

As punishment for calling for help, GASTON took the victim to an abandoned sixth-floor apartment on West 149th Street, where multiple men were waiting to rape and sexually assault her for GASTON’s profit. Attempting to escape, the victim climbed out of the bedroom window and fell 50 feet to the ground, sustaining numerous injuries including shattered vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, and a broken leg and arm. 

Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Dolle and Sara Weiss handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys John Temple, Chief of the Human Trafficking Response Unit, and Martha Bashford, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit; as well as Executive Assistant District Attorneys Audrey Moore, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, and John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Chloe Goodwin and Melissa Martinez of the Human Trafficking Response Unit also assisted in the prosecution of the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Manhattan Special Victims squad for their work on this case.

Defendant Information:

BENJAMIN GASTON, D.O.B. 9/9/1976
New York, NY

Convicted:

  • Kidnapping in the First Degree, a class A felony, 1 count
  • Sex Trafficking, a class B felony, 3 counts
  • Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Rape in the First Degree, a class B felony, 3 counts
  • Assault in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

Sentenced: 

  • 50-years-to-life in state prison

JOHNNY JACKSON, D.O.B. 8/27/1959
New York, NY

Convicted: 

  • Sex Trafficking, a class B felony, 1 count 

Sentenced: 

  • 9-to-18 years in state prison