A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the convictions of three men on sex-trafficking charges in what prosecutors had described as a widespread conspiracy in Minnesota, Ohio and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports. The men had been convicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, the AP says.
U.S. District Judge William Haynes said he was overruling jury convictions because he said the government did not prove the men were part of a single, broad conspiracy that involved a Somali gang, the AP says.
A victim testified in the April trial that she had been used as a prostitute in the Minneapolis area starting at age 12, but defendants have unveiled new evidence that suggested she was 18 or 19, the AP reports.
The ruling Wednesday was potentially a final blow to a case that seemed to fall apart at every turn. Originally, 30 were charged, but only nine of those stood trial. The other six had been acquitted by the jury.