POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Polk County jury found a Honduran man guilty of felony sex trafficking Wednesday for trying to shuttle a 16-year-old girl from Houston to Tennessee and having sex with her at a Livingston hotel.
The trial for Ledys Geovanny Alvarenga-Sarmiento is being held in in Judge Kaycee L Jones' Polk County courtroom. The jury only took about 15 minutes to reach their verdict, and they will now be setting Alvarenga-Sarmiento's sentence.
Alvarenga-Sarmiento is currently being held in the Polk County jail on a felony trafficking child/engaging in sexual conduct charge.
According to arrest records, Alvarenga-Sarmiento, was shuttling a 16-year-old girl with him to Tennessee, after previously being arrested in Pennsylvania for child sex-trafficking, in late June.
The minor who was allegedly used for sex-trafficking and smuggling by Alvarenga-Sarmiento last summer, spoke on the witness stand this morning, on behalf of the defendant.
The young girl used a translator to address the jury when answering questioning from both attorneys present.
She entered the courtroom seemingly happy. The girl wore a shirt that read, "wild at heart".
During her swearing in, the girl smiled while she looked at Alvarenga-Sarmiento. According to the her, they have not spoken since police became involved with their case.
The young girl admitted a lot during her nearly two hours of questioning. She is now 17 years of age. When police first came into contact with the young girl and Alvarenga-Sarmiento, she was 16.
During her testimony, the girl revealed that she lived with her parents in Honduras, but that her parents were not married. She is also one of seven siblings.
She was excited to come to America to make a better life for herself and her family. She admitted Alvarenga-Sarmiento said, "He would love her if she came with him."
She explained that she went to school in Honduras and that she did well in school, adding her favorite subject being social studies.
When asked what she did for fun, the young girl responded, "talk to Geovanny."
According the girl, her older sister is married to Alvarenga-Sarmiento cousin. This is how she came to know of Alvaranga-Sarmiento.
This is a different story than what Alvarenga-Sarmiento explained in his interview with the Homeland Security special agent who was present in court Tuesday.
When asked if the young girl's sister was involved in the sex-trade, the girl was confused.
"What?" She said.
After recalling her account with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the night she spent with Alvaranga-Sarmiento in the Livingston hotel, she was questioned by the prosecutor and then excused from court.
Before leaving the stand she asked the judge, "Can I tell him bye?"
The judge denied her request, and as she was escorted out of the courtroom, she looked over her shoulder in an attempt to make any possibly eye contact with Alvarenga-Sarmiento.
Prior to the young girl's testimony, the Alvarenga-Sarmiento's attorney brought back the Homeland Security special agent who was previously questioned Tuesday by the prosecution.
According to Alvarenga-Sarmiento's attorney, he and the special agent, "ended on some adversarial terms" Tuesday.
He questioned her further about her knowledge of the Honduran culture. She explained that it is not necessarily "normal" that young girls marry substantially older men, because they live in a notoriously Catholic society.
The special agent also mentions she is very familiar with the specific area in which the young girl lived. She noted that poorer areas of Honduras do experience sex-trafficking.
During her conversation with Alvarenga-Sarmiento after his arrest, he explained that nearly $10,000 to get this young girl inside the United States is, "cheap."
Following closing arguments the jury deliberated around an hour-and-a-half in which Alvarenga-Sarmiento was sentenced to 30 years in prison and given a $10,000 dollar fine.