Mom of Slain Sex Trafficked Teen Cries Out for Justice—and Gets It; Judge Slaps Pimp With 32 Years in Prison

Yvonne Ambrose, mother of Desiree Robinson, a 16-year-old who was sex trafficked on Backpage.com and killed Christmas Eve 2016, allegedly by a man she was pimped out to, in a 2018 photo.
Photo: Matt York (Associated Press)

The pimp who tricked out a 16-year-old girl before she was strangled, her throat slashed and her body discarded in a garage, allegedly by a man he set her up with, was sentenced Tuesday to 32 years in prison.

The mother of 16-year-old Desiree Robinson, Yvonne Ambrose, testified before Joseph Hazley’s sentencing, compared Hazley to a slave owner and said he was to blame for her child’s death even if prosecutors say another man actually committed the horrendous act.

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“Joseph Hazley sold my baby. My baby! As if she was a piece of clothing!” Ambrose told Chicago U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, the Chicago Tribune reports. “Our ancestors fought hard to keep us free from the same slavery that Joseph Hazley put my baby in.”

Prosecutors charged Hazley drew Desiree into a sex trafficking ring over which he reigned supreme, posting the women’s photos and ads on Backpage.com, arranging their meetings with sex clients, and transporting the women to meet with them.

They presented evidence that prior to her death on Christmas Eve of 2016, Desiree had said of Hazley in a message to a friend on Facebook: “He won’t let me leave,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Hazley was so coldblooded, authorities said, he slept comfortably in his car while Desiree was being brutally killed, and that just days after her death, he was begging another woman to come work for him because the teen’s death had hit him where it hurt—his pockets, according to the Sun-Times.

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Desiree’s death spurred her mother, Ambrose, to actively campaign against online sex trafficking and to put an end to Backpage, a site that was known to make money through ads promoting prostitution and other illicit acts.

Ambrose was on hand last year when Donald Trump signed into law a bill aimed at online sex trafficking, according to the Sun-Times. The feds shut down Backpage last year, and its founders are facing charges.

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The man accused of killing Desiree, Antonio Rosales, is awaiting trial on state charges of first-degree murder and aggravated sexual abuse.

Hazley maintains his innocence and says he’ll appeal his conviction, according to the Tribune:

“I know the story the government believes and released to the media is far from the truth,” he said.

“I feel like no matter what I do or how hard I try, no matter how good my intentions are, everything just seems to take a turn for the worst,” he said. “Like I’m standing in quicksand. The more I try, the more I sink.”

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Prosecutors said to not hold Hazley accountable for what should have been a “foreseeable” outcome for Desiree would be “offensive.”

Ambrose called Hazley’s sentencing “very, very satisfying.”

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