San Diego Voice & Viewpoint – A Victim/Convicted Pimp Murderer Still Being Brutalized – The Sara Kruzan Story – Parts I and 2


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A Victim/Convicted Pimp Murderer Still Being Brutalized –

The Sara Kruzan Story – Part I

 

In 1991, most thirteen year old girls were caught up in Disney’s newly released “Beauty and the Beast,” singing songs from popular artists like Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and if they were really fortunate, you could find them in front of the television playing their Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  Yeah, life was good for most thirteen year old girls, but not for Sarah Kruzan.  Born on January 8th, 1978, Kruzan was brought into a family with a disturbing set of circumstances.  Her mother, Nicole, a mother of three other children, whom all had different fathers, was deemed emotionally disturbed.  Because of her mother’s situation, Kruzan was emotionally and physically abused as a child, often witnessing her mother being abused by numerous “boyfriends,” some of which abused Sara as well. When Kruzan was four, her mother hit her so hard, blood spattered from her little nose onto a nearby dresser. She was often called names, such as ‘whore,’ ‘slut,’ and ‘worthless,’ and had hot tea and plates of food thrown on her.  The exposure to molestation and sexual abuse in Kruzan’s life started early, and left a damaging effect on her from the time of its inception. At the age of five, Sara was left with a man named Bob Brown, who molested her, and at ten, while she was in bed; one of her mother’s boyfriends touched her inappropriately.  After each incident, Kruzan reported them to her mother, in which her cries were left ignored.  Her mother even showed signs of jealousy and accused Kruzan of attempting to steal her boyfriends from her.

 In spite of these initial encounters and the extreme physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother, Sara was a pleasant child.  “She was really playful, jovial, friendly, smart and outgoing,” shared Sara’s aunt, Ms. Catherine-Anne Rogan.  At the age of eleven, Kruzan was on the honor roll and won the Young Author’s award for writing a book on the effects of drug use, something she knew about all too well.  Kruzan’s mother was addicted to cocaine and regularly used marijuana. Her father, an ex-convict, whom she encountered on only three occasions, used heroine, at one of these times witnessed by Kruzan.  The abuse Sara suffered at the hands of her mother was so severe; at one point a petition was filed to remove her from her mother’s home.  As Kruzan’s mother’s drug use continued, she lost her job as a hairdresser and was forced to move to a cheaper home outside of the Monrovia area into Rubidoux, which is in Riverside County.  Their new home was nestled in a dangerous, poor and gang infested area. By the fourth grade, Sara became a cutter, using scissors to carve on her legs until she saw blood, and also became a runaway.  When the pressure and stress became too much, Kruzan attempted suicide at the age of eleven.  Clinical records showed that she was depressed and overwhelmed at the emotional demands and instability of her mother.  While Sara had these issues, it was discovered that she was mirroring the behavior and thoughts of her mother who was clinically depressed and suicidal. 

Shortly after her attempted suicide, Kruzan was walking home from school, when she caught the eye of 31 year old George ‘G.G.’ Gilbert Howard, as he cruised the streets in his red Mustang.  He questioned where she was going, and seduced her into the car with the promise of buying her ice cream and giving her a ride home. But en route, they stopped at a park, and then at his home.  When they arrived at his residence, he left her in a room filled with erotic art and sculptures, while he went to change clothes, exposing her young impressionable mind to an entirely new level of sex. While at his home, he molested her telling her “Using you will be fantastic…. We will make lots of money.”  After this encounter, G.G. became a staple in Kruzan’s life, capitalizing on her youth, vulnerability and poverty.  He often treated Sara and her friends to outings at the roller rink, movies, money and trips to the mall.   Kruzan’s young impressionable mind became impressed by his power, money and nice cars.   According to the testimony of Ms. Tanja Gillam, G.G.’s custom Jaguar was so unusual that “if one were to see this car driving down the street, you would immediately notice the car,” she said.  Over the course of time, G.G. began to gain trust with Kruzan and her mother, which afforded him the opportunity to spend more and more time alone with the eleven year old.  He kept a close watch on her, often driving by her house to talk to her or having his limousine driver find her and pressure her to contact him.   Rogan, recalls meeting G.G. while visiting at Sara’s home. “[Sara’s mother] only introduced him as a family friend,” she said.  Later Rogan recalled getting a call from Sara, elated at the fact that G.G. had just gifted a gold bracelet to her. “I immediately said ‘put your mother on the phone.”  Rogan, at that point, grilled her mother on allowing an older man to spend time with Kruzan. Her mother seemed passive and dismissed Rogan’s concerns as unimportant.  As if matters hadn’t been bad enough in Sara’s life, at the age of twelve, her mother ‘enlisted’ one of the men with whom she smoked marijuana to act as Sara’s “mentor.” He was 23-year-old Roosevelt Carroll.  Often this new found mentor would sneak Kruzan out of the house to a motel, after smoking with her mother, where he gave her and had frequent sex with her of a period of a year. 

When Kruzan turned 13, she was brutally raped by three gang members from her neighborhood, while taking a short cut through the school on her way to the market.  Kruzan knew all three of the men that attacked her, one of which being an uncle of a friend of hers.  After raping her on some concrete steps, they threw her ripped shorts on her and told her “You’re in the gang now. That’s how we do it.”   Instead of pressing charges, her mother thought it best to relocate, fearing that the gang would retaliate.  After yet another traumatic incident, Kruzan sought comfort in her mother, only to hear that Sara had probably asked for it. Traumatized and filled with shame, Kruzan attempted suicide. This was her second time. From 1989 to 1993, Kruzan was hospitalized twice at Charter Hospital and three times at Knollwood Hospital, all for attempted suicides. 

In the same year as the gang rape, G.G. decided to take his relationship with Kurzan to the next level. He convinced her that marriage was simply a legalized form of prostitution, and that in the end all men want is sex.   This idea wasn’t too farfetched to Kruzan, since her life experiences contained numerous accounts of sexual exploitation.  G.G.’s words seemed to normalize what she for so long had to continuously deal with.  He was preparing her for a life in “the life,” known as prostitution.  At his main house, G.G. showed her stacks of hundred dollar bills, jewelry and photographs of women next to cars, and said “These are my girls, my women.”  A few weeks later, he took her to a motel to “teach her some things,” and had sex with her for the first time.  G.G. was 6’4 and twice Kruzan’s size.   After continuing to indoctrinate Sara through is actions, words, and with the help of some of his older prostitutes, she was ready for the streets.  One evening G.G. paired Kruzan with an adult prostitute, dressed her in provocative clothing, and placed her on the streets in Hollywood and Orange County.  Half of her first night was spent shadowing another prostitute, and the other half servicing 10-11 men.  Kruzan was with G.G. off and on prostituting for a few years, but failed to find any stability at home or in the streets. She soon met the abusive side of him, and became void of emotion.  But little did she know that G.G. represented the beginning of the worst injustice she had yet to experience. 

Child Sex Trafficking is devastating and is being combated on many levels in this country and around the world.  The average age that victims are first sold for sex is between 12 and 14. The penalty for human trafficking in California is only three to eight years. Part two of Sara’s story will be continued in next week’s issue of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint, with ways you can help fight child sex trafficking. 

Chida Warren-Darby, Managing Editor

The Sara Kruzan Story – Part II

After being introduced into a life of abuse and prostitution, at a young age, Sara Kruzan found herself in a state of depression and searching for relief from her nightmare ways of living.  At the age of 5, Kruzan was sexually molested, at 9 she suffered severe depression, and at 10 she was molested again. At the age of 11, she met G.G., the man who would force her to become a child prostitute, and at 12 she was raped by a man who was supposed to be in her life as a mentor.  At 13, Kruzan was gang raped, and by the age of 14, she had attempted suicide five times.  At 15, she was working on the streets as a prostitute while finding ways to stabilize her life at home. When it seemed as if things couldn’t get any worse for Kruzan, she was befriended by a young man named Johnny Otis, who was her age. He took her in and made an attempt to house her at his mother’s residence in Ontario. Unfortunately, that situation didn’t last too long because Kruzan’s mother threatened to notify the police that Otis and his mother were harboring a runway.  Not wanting to revisit the option of living with her mother again, Sara reluctantly returned to home, but stayed with her mother a short time.  After leaving there, she sought refuge in another place. Otis, still aware of Kurzan’s situation as it related to housing, decided to take her to the home of a friend’s uncle.  James Earl Hampton. It was a crack house.   Hampton was a drug dealer and had an extensive criminal record, and was out of prison on parole when he met Kruzan in 1994.  At just 25 years of age, Hampton had been convicted of several robberies and other criminal activities.  On several occasions, he bragged to Sara that he had even committed murders, at one point raping a woman in front of her children, slitting her throat and ransacking her home.  Needless to say, Kruzan feared him.

Sara had planned to start a new life with Johnny Otis, something of which Hampton was well aware. On one occasion, Hampton questioned Kruzan’s love for Otis, stating “I bet if I killed that mother*%$@# you couldn’t love him.”    Kruzan knew they needed money for a place, and shared with Otis that she believed she could get the funds they needed from G.G., since he had given her money in times past.  Otis at some point shared this information with Hampton, who decided to throw a curve ball in the young couple’s plans.   On the evening of March 9, 1994, Hampton orchestrated a plot in which Kruzan would rob and shoot G.G. giving the money to him.  If she didn’t, Otis and her family were dead.  Kruzan, under Hampton’s directions, got in touch with G.G. and arranged to meet with him. The plan was to get G.G. into a motel room where the robbery would take place.  Hampton supplied Kruzan with the gun, and enough threats to convince her that they were far from idle.

Once Kruzan and G.G. got together, he took her to the Dynasty Suites Motel, to engage in sexual intercourse with her. Once inside, G.G.began playing pornographic videos and taking out sex toys. When he undressed and went to plug in the “toy,” Kruzan shot him. So fixated on taking G.G.’s money in order to comply with Hampton’s demands, she fled the scene in sheer horror, leaving behind her purse, identification, and shoes.  Though Kruzan had little driving experience, and no driver’s license, she took G.G.’s Jaguar to where Hampton, Otis, and other men were waiting.   The next day, Hampton and Otis stripped the car, burned it and G.G.’s identification and took his credit cards.  Though Hampton had attempted to create an alibi for Kruzan, and threatened her, she was later found by police, confessed to the murder and arrested.  Sara Kruzan was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole…again; Kruzan was only 16 and had no priors. James Earl Hampton and Johnny Otis were never brought to trial.

Sara Kruzan is a victim-turned-survivor of child sex trafficking, the 21st century’s version of modern day slavery.   Kruzan has garnered supporters from all over the nation, who are campaigning and petitioning for her freedom. In 2006 ‘Free Sara Kruzan’ was founded by Kim Deanne whose dedication was inspired by her friend Kruzan to combat her plight as a victim of child-sex slavery and subsequently being sentenced as a youth to life in prison with no possibility of parole.  In 2012, this National Campaign run by three women (Kim Deanne, Jesaka Sekmet, and Carrie Christie), whose mission is to raise awareness of Sara’s story, work to facilitate her release from prison and to prevent all forms of child-sex slavery.  With the aid of international supporters and Sara’s 2007 interview by Human Rights Watch, on the last day of 2010, Sara’s sentence was commuted by Governor Schwarzenegger to 25 to life with the possibility of parole. Sara currently resides in an honors dorm in a women’s facility in the State of California. She has earned a college degree and has been named Woman of the Year by Correctional Officers. Sara’s final appeal to be released with time served was dated July 19, 2012, yet granted a 60 day extension. On September 18, 2012 Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach will decide whether Sara will be released with time served. The National Campaign to Free Sara Kruzan is currently petitioning, educating and demonstrating for Sara’s immediate release.

Currently on the ballot for November 2012 is Proposition 35 – Stop Human Trafficking in California. This initiative is an initiative that will fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children in the state. The initiative qualified for the ballot in May, after the Secretary of State certified the signatures submitted by the campaign.  In California, many vulnerable women and young girls are held against their will and forced to sell their bodies.  The victims are often girls as young as 12 who are sexually exploited for the financial gain of human traffickers.  They are afraid for their lives and abused – sexually, physically, and mentally.

Human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world – and it is taking place right here in our own backyard.  Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas.  In addition, a recent national study by a victims’ rights group gave California an “F” grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking.

To learn more about the ‘Free Sara Kruzan’ Campaign, visit www.freesarakruzan.org. To learn more about the Prop. 35, visit  www.caseact.org.

Sources: Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to Penal Code Section 1473.5 and to Redress Sentencing Error Pursuant to Penal Code Section 190.5;   www.freesarakruzan.org    www.caseact.org .

Chida Warren-Darby, Managing Editor

 

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