When Octavion Keith spoke briefly during his Wednesday sentencing on charges of benefiting from trafficking a 15-year-old girl, he talked mostly about his own children.
His daughter is 2 years old, and his son is 1.
“They make me happy,” Keith said. “I just love them to death.”
Walworth County Judge Kristine Drettwan said maybe when Keith, now 22, is older, and perhaps when he gets out of prison, he will understand how immature a 15-year-old girl really is.
“There is a reason that having sex with a 15-year-old, even if she ‘consents,’ is a crime,” Drettwan said. “It’s because a 15-year old, as she was, is not old enough, is not mature enough to handle that kind of behavior.”
Drettwan sentenced Keith to seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty in December to the trafficking and repeated sexual assault charges for having sex with the girl. Drettwan also ordered Keith to serve eight years of extended supervision for the crimes, between November 2016 and March 17, 2017.
A count of trafficking a child was dismissed and read into the record, as both parties acknowledged Keith was not some “mastermind”—as his lawyer, Melissa Frost, phrased it—who lured children into sex work.
District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said he thought his recommendation of 10 years in prison was a “light” sentence for a human trafficking case because there was only one victim and Keith did not groom her into it.
Keith did, however, encourage her, Wiedenfeld said.
“He certainly took advantage of a young, more vulnerable person,” he said.
Although the girl had moved from Chicago to Delavan and had experience using backpage.com for prostitution, Drettwan said her history “breaks my heart.” Drettwan added it was “naïve” to not think such child trafficking happens around here.
The victim told police she first met Keith, of 2308 Prairie View Drive, at a Delavan gas station, and the two later smoked marijuana together, according to the criminal complaint. They eventually met again and had sex.
Keith said he could not get a job, so the two agreed to set up online accounts so the girl could take money from clients and run, the complaint states. After she did that the first time, the girl told police she went on to perform sex acts with people for money.
Keith kept the money from the prostitution. In one instance, he made the girl return clothes she bought in order to pay him, according to the complaint.
Keith denied using backpage.com to arrange meetings for them, the complaint states. He said he baby-sat the victim’s siblings for money so she could engage in prostitution.
But Keith pleaded guilty to benefiting from the trafficking, and Drettwan said he deserved punishment.
“The public needs to be protected here because you did have a sexual relationship with this girl,” she said. “And you were involved with the sexual trafficking of that same girl.”
Keith will have to register as a sex offender. Frost spoke at length of Keith’s mental health and treatment needs.
Keith doesn’t have a prior criminal record, except one juvenile incident in which he had a BB gun.
That combined with his background—coming from a rough part of Milwaukee and growing up without a father—give Drettwan hope he can turn his life around, she said.
His ambitions and hopes for his future all center around his children, Frost said.
Although Wiedenfeld asked for no contact with any children, Drettwan granted Frost’s request to allow Keith to have phone and written contact while he is in prison—as long as the children’s mother approves.
“It hurt me to be in a situation to be away from them,” said Keith, whose lawyer said he was nervous. “I never had my dad in my family, so me being there was a big thing, and I kinda just messed it up for them.
“They did nothing but love me for me.”