Monday, February 6, 2012
Civil Court Judgment Awarded to Sexual Assault Victim NR12068cjLos Angeles: On November 30, 2011, a civil judgment was issued against Michael Mersola, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The action was the result of a criminal investigation against Mersola in 2007, resulting in a conviction of Mersola in July 2008.
In 2007, members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Human Trafficking Section were requested to assume investigative responsibilities in an investigation of pimping, pandering, and bribery of a witness and sexual assault. The three victims in this matter were all under the age of 18.
Immediately after the guilty conviction in criminal court, one of the victims filed a civil lawsuit against Mersola.
A jury of 12 people was impaneled and sworn to hear the civil case. After hearing the evidence and arguments of counsel, the jury was instructed by the Court and the case was submitted to the jury. The jury returned a special verdict of negligence, emotional distress, outrageous conduct and sexual battery.
Mersola was held responsible for his treatment of the victim and she was awarded $250,000.
The judgment against Mersola is one of the first of its’ kind where a victim of pimping, pandering and sexual battery was awarded a cash judgment against an assailant.
The Los Angeles Police Department Human Trafficking Section is a part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. The task forces were formed to address the growing problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children through prostitution in the United States. Since its inception, the initiative has resulted in the development of 44 dedicated task forces and working groups throughout the United States, involving federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. To date, these groups have worked successfully to rescue more than 1,800 children.
Investigations have successfully led to the conviction of over 800 pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution. These convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple life sentences, as well as the seizure of real property, vehicles, and monetary assets. All of the victims in these crimes were under the age of 18. The investigation is on-going.
Anyone with further information regarding this matter is asked to call the Innocence Lost Task Force Hotline at (800) 655-4095. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800) 222-8477. Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.