Man pleads guilty to forcing Kennewick teen into prostitution

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 10, 2014 

— Prosecutors say they will ask for the maximum sentence for a Kent man who took pictures of a naked Kennewick teen and forced her into prostitution.

Deepak Sing Samra, 20, pleaded guilty Monday in Benton County Superior Court to several felony charges, including promoting prostitution, possessing the photos and third-degree assault.

Prosecutors will recommend Samra be sentenced next month to more than four years in prison, said Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Whittier. She said four years is “very substantial,” considering Samra has no criminal history. “We believe that was appropriate given the gravity of the crimes,” she said.

At Monday’s hearing, Samra’s attorney, Norma Rodriguez, asked Judge Cameron Mitchell to allow her client to remain out of jail until his sentencing March 26. Samra bailed out of the Benton County jail last week.

Prosecutors argued that Samra is a danger to the community. Mitchell agreed, saying he “didn’t see any reason” that Samra should be free. He raised his bail to $500,000.

Prosecutors said Samra and his then 16-year-old girlfriend, Christy Nung, forced the victim into prostitution. Nung, now 17, pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution in the first-degree and second-degree assault, Whittier said. She served time at a juvenile facility.

The couple befriended the victim, who was 15 at the time, to force her into prostitution, authorities said. Samra told the girl she was pretty and that the couple could “make a lot of money” off of her.

Samra took nude photos of the girl on a cellphone to advertise her in the Seattle area, authorities said. Police found nude photos and texts setting up “dates” for the girl on Samra’s phone after he was arrested.

The victim told police she agreed to the photos because she was scared of Samra and Nung, court documents said.

The girl was forced to have sex with Nung’s 30-year-old neighbor for $60, authorities said. The couple gave the victim $10 and Samra told police he kept $40.

Nung told police the sex happened at least twice and she helped set it up, court documents said. Samra got mad at Nung for not getting enough money from the deals.

Police said the victim tried to avoid the couple “at all costs” after the encounter with the neighbor.

On June 12, Nung tried to pressure the victim to have sex with a man for money, court documents said. She came to the victim’s house, along with Nung’s 14-year-old sister, and demanded the victim get in a car. Nung told the victim she “had money to make.”

The victim refused to get in the car and the 14-year-old tried to fight her, court documents said. Nung told the girl, “not in front of the (victim’s) house.”

A short while later, the victim and some friends were coming out of a store on Clearwater Avenue when the 14-year-old walked up and started punching the victim.

Samra, who drove the girl to 7-11, was encouraging the attack, yelling “get her” and “knee her in the face,” court documents said.

Police found the victim crying and bloodied outside the store. She was interviewed by officers and told them she was forced into prostitution. “We believe (Samra) was the primary person involved and directing it,” Whittier said.

Nung and her sister were arrested more than two weeks later. They admitted to the assault, and Nung admitted to helping to prostitute the victim. The 14-year-old pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault and served time in a juvenile facility, Whittier said.

Whittier said the plea deal with Samra would ensure the victim doesn’t have to testify at a trial.

“The victim and her well-being was always going to be a priority of ours, as well as community safety,” she said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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