A Burnsville man could face life in prison for trafficking minors through a multistate prostitution ring.
On Wednesday, a jury in Minneapolis' federal circuit court found Arthur J. Chappell, 40, guilty of eleven charges, including two counts of sex trafficking a minor and several charges for possessing and producing child pornography. The verdict has been a long time coming. This January, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a 28-year prison sentence imposed on Chappell due to improper jury instructions, prompting a retrial.
Federal prosecutors say that the prostitution ring was active from August of 2006 until the case against Chappell broke in June 2007, when Bloomington Police officers discovered four women in a hotel room rented under his name.
Further investigation revealed that Chappell recruited two girls under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution, which he promoted on Backpage and Craigslist. One of the girls testified that Chappell himself had sexually assaulted her and threatened her with violence.
Chappell also compelled minors to participate in pornograpic productions.
On Wednesday, prosecutors hailed Chappell's conviction as a blow against the $32 billion worldwide human trafficking industry.
"Today's conviction is fitting for someone who's robbed a child of their innocence and created a permanent record of victimization," Michael Feinberg, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations, St. Paul office, said in a statement following the verdicts.
Chappell is no stranger to the legal system. According to Minnesota court records, Chappell is a three-time felon with a rap sheet that includes a 1995 conviction of second-degree assault (two attempted murder charges against him were dismissed) and a prior conviction for promoting prostitution in 2002.
Chappell will be sentenced at a later date.