A petition from child trafficking survivor Sara Kruzan for a new murder trial has been denied by a California judge. Sarah was only 16 years old when she killed her pimp who had sexually enslaved her since the age of 11. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — a devastating, hopeless sentence for a victimized child. You can stand up for justice and join the thousands of Change.org members who are supporting freedom for Sara Kruzan.
When Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, she was 11. Sara’s mom struggled with drug addiction, so when G.G. would drive Sara and her friends to the roller skating rink or the mall, it felt like having a real parent around. He gave Sara presents and told her she was special — so special, that she should never give sex away for free. He convinced her she was a product that men would pay a lot of money for. G.G. groomed Sara like this for two years before he raped her. By then, his control was complete and he forced her into prostitution. Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were out on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night. Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit.
In 1994, a rival pimp told Sara that if she didn’t kill G.G., he would kill her. So Sara shot the man who had held her captive and tortured her for five years our of fear that another pimp would kill her if she didn’t. It was the action of a frightened, traumatized, trafficked child.
At her original trial, no one presented any information about intimate partner abuse, child sex trafficking, or the rest of the trauma Sara would have experienced in her young life. There were no expert witnesses to speak on Sara’s behalf or explain to the jury why a child with no criminal record would shoot a grown man in a motel room. Therefore, the jury saw only a killer and a raped, and not the incredibly complex system of power and control which G.G. had exercised over Sarah since she was a little girl. And so they found her guilty and she was sentenced to life without parole.
Despite today’s disappointing news, Sara and her lawyers are refusing to give up hope that she can be free again.
Human Rights Watch and the National Center for Youth Law have both advocated for Kruzan’s freedom in the past. Now, you can also take a stand against this injustice. Take a moment to sign the petition demanding justice for Sara. Victims of human trafficking deserve treatment and help for the trauma they’ve suffered. Sara Kruzan has paid for the actions she was coerced into as a child more that she should have already. Now, it’s time to set her free.