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State v. Footman

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 30, 2018

Troy Footman.

          Providence County P2/14-245A Superior Court Susan E. McGuirl, Associate Justice

          For State: Owen Murphy Department of the Attorney General

          For Defendant: Megan F. Jackson, Office of the Public Defender

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.


          Maureen McKenna Goldberg, Associate Justice

         After a jury trial in the Superior Court, Troy Footman (Footman or defendant) was convicted of two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-67-6 (counts one and two); two counts of pandering or permitting prostitution, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-34.1-7(b) (counts three and four); and one count of driving a motor vehicle with a suspended license, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 31-11-18 (count five). The trial justice imposed two concurrent sentences of forty years to serve for the two counts of sex trafficking of a minor; a consecutive sentence of five years to serve for one count of pandering or permitting prostitution; a concurrent sentence of five years suspended, with probation, on the second count of pandering or permitting prostitution; and a term of thirty days to serve and a fine of $250 for driving with a suspended license. Because the parties have waived oral argument before the Court, we decide this appeal on the basis of the briefs.

         Before this Court, defendant advances three assignments of error. First, defendant contends that he received constitutionally deficient notice of the charges against him because the trial justice denied his motion for an amended bill of particulars. Next, defendant claims that his convictions for two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and two counts of pandering or permitting prostitution violate the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions. Finally, defendant argues that the trial justice erred in denying his motion for a mistrial after a witness testified to a conversation she had with defendant about human trafficking and his concern about returning to jail. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of conviction with respect to counts one and two, and affirm the judgment in all other respects.

         Facts and Travel

         The facts in this case recount a chronicle of debauchery and sexual exploitation of a fourteen-year-old runaway girl. On January 30, 2014, defendant was charged by criminal information with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, two counts of pandering or permitting prostitution, and one count of driving with a suspended license. A jury trial commenced on July 8, 2015, and the following facts were revealed through the testimony of various witnesses.

         After an argument with her parents because she had slept over at a friend's house without their permission, young Natalie[1] ran away from home. Natalie first sought refuge at a community shelter near Boston, where she encountered a friend, Nambo "Meme" Gaye (Gaye), who had also run away from home. After a month and a half on the run, staying with various friends, Natalie and Gaye arrived at the home of another friend, Kadiesha Jackey (Jackey), where they stayed for approximately one month. One afternoon, after an outing to a fast-food restaurant, Natalie's friends told her to fix her hair because they had met a man named Troy who asked them if they wanted to earn some money by making a music video. That man was defendant. The three girls proceeded to defendant's home.

         During their visit, defendant and the three girls were joined by two other people-Karen Van Buren (Van Buren), who was employed by defendant in some capacity, and another gentleman who was a friend of defendant. When asked how old they were, Jackey disclosed her true age-seventeen years old-but Gaye, who was fifteen at the time, lied and said that she was seventeen, while Natalie, who was fourteen at the time, told defendant that she was eighteen. Natalie testified that she lied about her age because she "wanted to be older[.]" The defendant then began to discuss "dancing" with the three girls and explained that it was a way to make "fast money." The defendant gave Natalie his number and told her that, if she ever needed anything, she could contact him.

         Two weeks later, Jackey's mother learned from an Amber Alert that Natalie was a missing child; she asked Natalie to leave the home. With no money and no other place to go, Natalie contacted defendant, who invited her to live at his home. Soon thereafter, the two began an intimate sexual relationship. The defendant initially paid for all living expenses, including rent, food, and utilities, and gave Natalie extra money for personal expenses. However, defendant urged Natalie to get a job and again raised the topic of dancing or stripping at a club. After Natalie disclosed that she had not been home and therefore had no birth certificate or other form of identification, defendant assured her that he "could handle all that." The two traveled to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where they acquired a fake Delaware identification card for Natalie. The identification card included Natalie's photo, the name "Maxine Cooper," and a birth date of April 13, 1991, making Natalie twenty-one years old at that time. The defendant also gave Natalie a fake Boston College student identification card with the name "Maxine Cooper."

         Shortly thereafter, on March 12, 2013, defendant and Van Buren drove Natalie to Cheaters, an exotic dancing club in Providence. Upon arrival, defendant instructed Natalie to act mature and ask for Paul "Paulie" Calligano (Paulie), the manager of Cheaters at that time. Natalie followed Van Buren into the club, introduced herself to Paulie, and expressed a willingness to embark on a dancing career. After Paulie examined and photocopied her identification documents, he told Natalie that she was hired and that she was required to sign an acknowledgement that she would be terminated if she engaged in "any activity that is deemed to [b]e in violation of the Rhode Island indoor [p]rostitution law." After Natalie executed the document, Paulie gave Natalie a tour of the facility and briefly described her duties as an exotic dancer. Paulie also explained Cheaters' pay-to-dance fee structure and told her that she would have to pay $35 to the manager on duty each day that she worked. The defendant gave Natalie $35 for her first shift and told her that Van Buren was going to take her "under her wing[.]"[2] He also advised Natalie "[t]o be extremely polite to the customers and to try and get as much money as [she could]." At the end of her first shift, defendant picked Natalie up from Cheaters, asked her how much money she earned, and explained that he would keep the money so that she was not carrying cash when she reported for work.

         The defendant had greater ambitions for Natalie beyond her dancing career at Cheaters. He also posted sexually suggestive photographs of Natalie on the now-defunct website, with the expectation that Natalie would engage in sex acts for compensation.[3] Interested callers would call the phone number posted on Natalie's profile, and defendant would discuss the price for each sex act and schedule an appointment. After each sexual encounter, Natalie's earnings would be relinquished to defendant. Natalie also began working in the "Godiva Room," a private area within Cheaters, where she would charge anywhere from $100 to $200 or more for performing sex acts with patrons of Cheaters. The defendant provided the condoms, and Natalie turned over the profits.[4]

         Natalie continued dancing and appearing in the Godiva Room until July 29, 2013, when, pursuant to an undercover investigation, Providence police detectives Jonathan Kantorski and Louis Gianfrancesco entered Cheaters in plain clothes. The two detectives first sat at a bar and watched as defendant entered the club and spoke to Natalie. After defendant left, Det. Gianfrancesco approached Natalie, who identified herself by her stage name, Rozay. Several minutes later, uniformed officers entered the club and approached Natalie; Dets. Kantorski and Gianfrancesco then left the club. When asked for her name, Natalie first said Maxine Cooper; but, after further prompting, she disclosed her true identity and was transported to Providence police headquarters. Natalie was fifteen years old at the time. The defendant was arrested that night and later charged by way of criminal information.

         On July 20, 2015, defendant was found guilty on all five counts as charged; his motion for a new trial was subsequently denied, and the trial justice imposed the ...

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