A 30-year-old Missouri man who pleaded guilty to selling a 17-year-old Massachusetts girl for sex was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison.
Stephen Ardrey pleaded guilty in February to trafficking a minor and transporting a minor to engage in sex.
U.S. District Judge John McConnell Jr. said he didn't give the minimum sentence because he wanted to send a message to pimps and johns that they will be prosecuted for sex trafficking.
Prosecutors said Ardrey met the girl online and took her from a library in Medfield, Massachusetts, to a motel in West Greenwich in September. He described himself to police as a pimp and said he knew the teen was underage and could tell she had developmental disabilities.
Despite his observations, Ardrey still posted sexually explicit pictures of the girl to backpage.com to solicit johns. Prosecutors said one customer paid Ardrey $40 and two packs of cigarettes to sexually assault the girl before she was found and returned to her family.
The girl's parents, Michael and Maureen Thompson, spoke in court and described how the incident has negatively affected their family. The couple said their daughter just graduated high school and hopes to continue her studies, despite having nightmares, panic attacks, and being bullied and shamed by classmates.
The couple spoke on their daughter's behalf despite objections from the defense.
Michael Thompson ended his comments by saying that he hoped sentencing was the "beginning of a changed life" for Ardrey.
The defendant apologized to the couple saying, "I can say I'm sorry, but we all learn as children saying sorry isn't enough."
Following his 14-year sentence, Ardrey will have 10 years of supervised release and he will have to register as a sex offender and undergo counseling and treatments.