Sacto 9-1-1
September 11, 2009
El Dorado Hills man sentenced for sex trafficking disabled girl

From Julie Johnson

A 25-year-old El Dorado Hills man was sentenced Friday to 12 years and 7 months in federal prison for sex trafficking of a developmentally disabled girl.

Rishi Sanwal, 25, pleaded guilty in May to using force and coercion to engage a 17-year-old girl in prostitution.

The victim's mother gave an impassioned, tearful statement before the sentencing in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. She said Sanwal had taken advantage of her daughter, who is developmentally disabled and bipolar.

"With the intent of personal financial gain, he took her innocence," the victim's mother said.

The young woman's ordeal began with a night of drinking and playing pool on March 18, 2008. Sanwal met the victim at a Safeway parking lot in El Dorado Hills, according to court documents.

They were introduced by mutual acquaintances from the victim's school, and the group drank alcohol and smoked marijuana on the way to a Sacramento pool hall. That night, Sanwal took the victim to his El Dorado Hills home where they had sex.

The following morning, Sanwal drove the victim in a Hummer sport utility vehicle to a motel in Fremont along Interstate 80. For several days, Sanwal forced her to sell herself as a prostitute in Fremont and Rocklin. Sanwal and at least one other man, who then told her he would be her new pimp, raped and intimidated her.

Meanwhile, federal investigators and the victim's family had launched a search for the girl. She was found after she called a friend from Sanwal's cell phone and said she was in the Bay Area. Investigators traced Sanwal's phone to the Craigslist ads. Police found her in Fremont on March 25, 2008.

U.S. Judge Edward Garcia opted for the maximum sentencing for the crime.

U.S. Assistant District Attorney Kyle Reardon, who prosecuted the case, said the judge's ruling was "a stiff sentence I'm happy with." Sanwal's attorney, Jeffrey Kravitz, had no comment.

The victim's mother said her daughter still struggles with the memory of what happened and suffers from acute post traumatic stress syndrome. Though the victim was 17 years old at the time, her mother said she was developmentally 11 or 12 years old.

"He should be ashamed of himself," the victim's mother said in court. "I hope he thinks about what he has done to a developmentally disabled child."

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