Celebrities are calling for the release of Cyntoia Brown, a child sex trafficking victim, after she murdered a man in 2004 who picked her for sex when she was only 16.
Brown was sentenced to life prison after being charged as an adult while she was in her teens.
Although there haven't been any significant changes in her case since her first trial took place in 2006, after 13 years celebrities are turning attention to the sex trafficking victims story with #FreeCyntoiaBrown and want her to be released.
The victim, now 29, was jailed in Tennessee after her trial and life sentence for the death of 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen, who had paid her for sex. She was living with her abusive boyfriend at that time, who sold her for sex.
Her boyfriend reportedly abused her, raped her, threatened to kill her and forced her into a life of drug use and sex work.
“He would explain to me that some people were born whores, and that I was one, and I was a slut, and nobody’d want me but him, and the best thing I could do was just learn to be a good whore,” Brown testified at a 2012 hearing that sought a new trial for her.
Brown murdered Allen, a Tennessee real estate agent, out of fear for her life. According to her, he picked her up and insisted on taking her home, telling her he was an ex-Army sharpshooter and also showed off his firearms. She reported how his behavior made her nervous, and that he "grabbed" her forcefully between her legs. "He just gave me this look. It was, like, a very fierce look," she explained.
"But then, he rolls over, like he's reaching to the side of the bed or something. So I'm thinking, 'He's not going to hit me, he's going to get a gun.' I just grabbed the gun and I shot him," she said.
Prosecutors said that her motive was robbery because she had taken money and two guns from Allen after killing him; however, as per Brown’s lawyer she took those things because she was scared of going empty-handed to her boyfriend.
According to Brown’s lawyer and advocates she was a victim of sex trafficking and her sentence was too intense, given her age and circumstances. They argued Brown acted in self-defense but she was still convicted for first-degree murder. She is going to be eligible for parole at the age of 69.
In 2011, Brown’s case garnered some attention after filmmaker Dan Birman’s documentary, “Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story,” aired on PBS.
“This is a young girl who’s at the tail end of three generations of violence against women,” Birman told Nashville’s Fox 17 earlier this month, mentioning how Brown's mother and grandmother were raped.
“She had no chance.”
Now celebrities including Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian West have started campaigning for the victim once again.
did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause..... Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already! #FREECYNTOIABROWN #HowManyMore
The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this. #FreeCyntoiaBrown pic.twitter.com/73y26mLp7u— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 21, 2017
Brown’s lawyer told NBC that she was “shocked and surprised” at the celebrity support.
“This is meaningful not to Cyntoia, but to the cause of sex trafficking and sex slavery and juvenile justice,” Charles Bone said.
Bone said a team of lawyers were all set to fight for the new trial hoping for the victim to be “charged with second-degree murder at the most,” a charge that would allow her to be considered for parole immediately.
“The difference in 15 years and 51 years is a lifetime for a person like Cyntoia,” he said.
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