Ex-con gets 159 years to life for human trafficking and other charges

- After claiming that he's innocent and storming out of court, an ex-convict was sentenced Friday to 159 years to life in state prison for sexually assaulting two young women and one minor girl in Oakland last year.

Albert Rich, 35, was convicted last month of human trafficking of a minor for commercial purposes, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, torture and assault with a deadly weapon for sexually assaulting the victims and forcing them to work as prostitutes every day on International Boulevard until they finally were able to escape and get help from Oakland police.

Before he was sentenced, Rich, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound man, who was guarded by several bailiffs, said, "Everything in this case is a lie. I didn't do none of these things and I can't say I feel bad for them (the 
victims)."

While Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson was pronouncing her sentence against him, a lengthy process because he was convicted of 13 felony counts and multiple enhancements, Rich got up from his seat and went out a side door leading to a stairway to a courthouse holding cell. Several bailiffs chased after him to restrain him.

After Rich was convicted last month, prosecutor Sabrina Farrell said the three victims "went through a lot" when Rich abused them both physically and sexually and called his trial "one of the most horrendous cases in recent Alameda County history."

The crimes occurred in May and June of 2017.

Farrell said Rich burned one of the young women with a flat iron hair-styling device and then sodomized her with a deodorant spray can, causing her to bleed for 12 hours.

In a letter to the court Farrell read aloud, that victim said she met Rich through the website Plenty of Fish and said he presented himself as "a generous and caring person who wanted to help me, and I thought he wanted to be my friend."

But the woman said a short time later Rich took her to an apartment complex where he raped her in a stairwell, saying she couldn't stop him because he was so much bigger than she was.

The victim said, "I realized that he wanted to use me to get money by sleeping with other men, and I felt I really didn't have a choice."

The woman said it took her eight months to recover from the 3rd and 4th-degree burns she suffered when Rich burned her with the flat iron device, and she's still traumatized by her experiences and needs to take medication in order to sleep.

Rich's lawyer Ernie Castillo told jurors during the trial that the three young women weren't credible witnesses.

Castillo said, "Each of these girls did prostitution on their own and made their own decisions to work with Mr. Rich."

Castillo admitted Rich, who's been convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, false imprisonment and illegal gun possession, is a pimp but said "he's not a human trafficker" and "he didn't force them into the prostitution life."

A second defendant, Sasha Coleman, 28, stood trial with Rich on charges of human trafficking and pimping for allegedly helping him with his human trafficking scheme, but the prosecution dismissed the charges against her during the trial.

A third defendant, Khalilah Barker, 23, was also scheduled to stand trial for allegedly helping Rich, but on March 29 she pleaded no contest to three counts of human trafficking and two counts of pimping in a deal with prosecutors that calls for her to get a light prison sentence in return for her testimony against Rich.
 

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