Vancouver man sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison for sex trafficking two girls, ages 14 and 15, from Eugene

A judge's gavel

Prosecutors had urged a 30-year sentence for Johnl Jackson, 34. His defense lawyer argued for the mandatory minimum of 15 years. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ordered Jackson be held in prison for 16 years and eight months.


A Vancouver man who took two girls from Eugene to Vancouver, Washington, supplied them with drugs and alcohol, forced them to have sex and collected payments for their sex trafficking was sentenced Monday to nearly 17 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Paaso said Johnl Jackson, 34, treated the two girls, ages 14 and 15, “like fungible commodities,” used force and coercion to traffic them and mentored another man who also forced the girls to have sex with men for money.

Jackson was arrested in 2019 in Vancouver.

Paaso urged a 30-year prison term.

With two co-defendants, Jackson recruited girls, advertised sexual services, delivered the girls to customers and split the proceeds. He introduced them to a house on Northeast Lombard Street in Portland “where consistent prostitution customers lived,” Paaso wrote to the court.

Co-defendants Keonte Desmond Scott and Diana Petrovic described Jackson as being in charge of the group and always carrying a gun.

“He controlled the online postings, knew all the customers, and claimed control of the locations where the sexual services were provided,” the prosecutor wrote to the court.

A jury in March convicted Jackson of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a child, sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.

One of the victims listened to the hearing by phone but provided a written statement to the court. Paaso read it on her behalf: “You did the most unspeakable thing to me that once broke me and stripped me of everything. I learned not to let it break me.... I’m glad you’ll never be able to hurt another young child again. I am no longer afraid…I’m going to be a mother this year to a daughter of my own, but I’m going to protect her from what happened to me to the best of my ability.’’

Jackson’s defense lawyer Per C. Olson urged a 15-year sentence.

He argued that the time the girls engaged in commercial sex occurred over less than five days — one girl was under his control for a day and a half, the other less than five days. He also told the court that Jackson doesn’t have a violent criminal record and had a difficult life. His dad was in prison, and he had to care for other siblings by age 12 while his mother worked three jobs. His family was homeless for some time, and he suffered from drug abuse, according to Olson.

Jackson’s mother, Nancy Rhodes, urged the judge to have mercy on her son. She said he had to “grow up early,” because she struggled as a single mom working several jobs and had asked him to help raise her younger children.

Jackson spoke briefly, telling the judge he didn’t feel like he had a fair trial.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman sentenced Jackson to 16 years and eight months as Jackson’s mother knelt on her right knee in an aisle of the courtroom’s public gallery, her head bowed, hands clasped and resting against the top of the wooden bench in front of her.

Mosman said he didn’t agree with prosecutors that Jackson ran a sophisticated sex trafficking enterprise, calling it “short-lived, haphazard” and “opportunistic.”

The judge said he recognized that victims can be deeply traumatized by even one day of sex trafficking.

Yet Mosman said he had to compare Jackson’s case to others that have come before the court in which the sex trafficking occurred over months with hundreds of men and torture involved.

In 2016, Jackson befriended Scott, also of Vancouver, after Scott’s release from prison. Jackson sold Scott cocaine and eventually began to coach him to engage in commercial sex trafficking, according to court records.

In late 2016, Scott met and began a relationship with Petrovic, also of Vancouver. Jackson helped Scott traffic Petrovic, showing him how to post online prostitution ads and, at times, posting the ads himself on Scott’s behalf, according to prosecutors. Soon, Jackson and Scott began using Petrovic to recruit and traffic other minor females, according to prosecutors.

In early 2018, two girls, ages 14 and 15 then, had run away from their homes in Eugene, and met Scott and Petrovic at a mall in Vancouver, according to court records. Petrovic took the girls to a home and plied them with drugs and alcohol. Scott and Petrovic told the girls they’d take them to an upscale party but instead took them to a home on Northeast Lombard Street in Portland where they were sold for sex, according to court records.

Eventually, the girls got away, spent the night elsewhere and contacted one of their mothers, who picked them up and took them home the next day, according to prosecutors.

By the summer of 2018, Petrovic began working with Jackson and had maintained contact on social media with one of the girls. In late August 2018, Jackson and Petrovic drove to Eugene to pick up the 15-year-old and her 14-year-old friend from a junior high school, according to court records. On the drive back to Portland, Jackson gave both girls “plates” of drugs to ingest. At some point, Jackson gave Petrovic $250 to buy the girls new clothing and underwear, according to Paaso.

The girls were taken to Vancouver where they were given more drugs and, at some point, stopped at a house where one of the girls was sent to a back room to engage in sexual acts with Jackson’s cocaine supplier in exchange for the drugs and money, according to prosecutors.

Jackson and Petrovic also took the girls to a gathering at a barn in Battle Ground, Washington, where one of the teens was forced to have sex with a man, but told to say she was 19. One of the girls that night escaped with a man who she had convinced to help her get away from Jackson and Petrovic, confiding that she was only 14, according to prosecutors.

Jackson and Petrovic took the other girl to a hotel near Portland International Airport where they spent the night. The next day, she was forced to have sex with one man for $300 and forcibly raped by another at the Lombard Street house in Portland, according to Paaso.

Within days, while Jackson and Petrovic were sleeping in their hotel room, the girl snuck out and escaped and was rescued several hours later by her grandfather, according to prosecutors.

Scott, 24, was sentenced in May to eight years and one month in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sex trafficking. Petrovic, 23, has pleaded guilty to distribution of controlled substances to persons under 21. Her sentencing is set for April 3 of next year.

-- Maxine Bernstein

Email; 503-221-8212

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