An Illinois man found guilty of sex trafficking following his arrest at a Bloomington hotel in 2019 will spend 20 years in prison.
Darnell Deshawn Stennis, 30, was convicted by a federal jury last year on two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, two counts of transporting an individual to engage in prostitution, and one count of obstruction.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz sentenced Stennis to 240 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
According to court documents, officers arrested Stennis at the La Quinta Inn in Bloomington on March 25, 2019.
Police responded to the hotel on a report that a hotel guest heard yelling and what sounded like someone being thrown against a wall.
Police officers found Stennis and two other women. In their hotel room, officers found "obvious signs of a disturbance," including a toilet seat in multiple pieces and a bent towel rack.
One of the women told police Stennis had assaulted her after she told him she didn't want to be a prostitute anymore. She said he choked her, bashed her head into the towel rack and pushed her down onto the toilet seat.
After his arrest, Stennis told one of the women to lie to investigators and destroy evidence of sex trafficking, according to court documents.
Investigators say he also continued to force another woman to perform commercial sex acts for several months, even while he was in custody, by threatening her with physical violence.
“While today’s sentencing cannot undo the pain Stennis inflicted upon those who survived his abuse, it is my hope that by seeing him held accountable for his heinous crimes they will be given some form of solace knowing he is no longer in the communities in which they live,” Jamie Holt, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations St. Paul, said in a press release.