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A Sex Trafficker Put Away in Alaska

This is the story of justice. Not complete justice but a good example of a successful prosecution of a predator and sex trafficker in a case that highlights the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking in communities across the US in ‘front type legitimate’ businesses, in this case an ESCORT SERVICE. Don Webster began finding women who were vulnerable. They were homeless, or runaway teenagers or young adults, or otherwise compromised in life through child sexual abuse, broken families, abandonment, betrayal, drugs and alcohol. Some were already working on the streets and others were just attractive to him, and easy prey. He is a predator.

He began with one house in Anchorage Alaska and offered ‘protection and shelter’ to these women. In some cases he romanced them as a boyfriend to win their trust. As time progressed he acquired more homes as he forced women through rape, beatings and torture to ‘go on dates’ for prostitution in local hotels or customers’ homes. They answered the telephone based on ads in local papers and scheduled the times and places. They turned over all of the money earned and were given drugs instead or a meager amount for food and personal items. The drugs kept them addicted so they would serve him. He demanded obedience or beatings. They often watched him humiliate woman through strippings, beatings, torture and rapes to frighten the others into submission.

Soon the word got out that bad things were happening in this house or another and the wheels of justice began to move. Here is where alert people can interrupt the operations of predators. They were being watched now. In the course of time a federal case was built by fact finding and skillful investigative work on the part of many agents. The case was brought to trial, numerous charges were filed and Don Webster was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison at age 51, and supervised release afterwards if he lived that long.

“Jerry Star” (his alias name), was convicted of 28 counts of sex trafficking minors and adults, and drug charges. "Evil takes many forms. Don Webster, a/k/a Jerry Starr, embodies several of them," said U.S. Attorney Nelson P. Cohen. "He is a drug pusher-who used both cocaine and crack to enslave his victims. He is a disgusting bully who manipulated women and children. He is a physical abuser who forced his will upon weaker people with threats of burning them with boiling water; confining them to a closet; beating and raping them; and even choking a woman to the point of unconsciousness in the presence of two other women and a child. He is a thief who stole their dignity and hope. He is a violent predator who deserves the sentence imposed today. There are people in our world who need to be locked up and put away for a long time. Jerry Starr is one of them."

RESTITUTION: I had the privilege while I was the District Director for the U. S. Dept. of Labor of developing restitution calculations for the victims in this case. We computed over $2 million under the Trafficking Victim Protection Act mandatory restitution provision. The Judge chose to order the greater calculation of $3.6 million under the “ill-gotten gains” provision rather than the Fair Labor Standards Act method for calculating restitution but added that if the “ill gotten gains” method did not stand up to appeal that restitution reverted to the FLSA method. What a victory for those who suffered so at the hands of this predator, a broken soul full of evil.

When I saw him come into the courtroom I was shocked that this little man could inflict such horror and wield such power over the vulnerable and weak. I was reminded of the great prophet Isaiah, who once described the evil one, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook the kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and tore down its cities, who didn’t let his prisoners go home?” I only wished I could have been there earlier, for the children and women, to spare them some of their pain.

Sadly, they might never see a penny of the restitution because he squandered the money and riches he had accumulated before his arrest. But they were now free, now free to go on to heal their hearts and lives. Will you join us and look for those trapped right in our neighborhoods? Will you reach out to the downcast and give them a home?

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