A 19-year-old Novato man facing charges that include pimping and forced oral copulation with a minor pleaded guilty Thursday to pandering in Marin County Superior Court.
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Santa Rosa Police detectives identified the man, Amari Folsom, as the "human trafficker" of a 14-year-old Santa Rosa girl who was forced to work as a prostitute in Marin. By pleading guilty to pandering, Folsom admitted to procuring an individual by force, fear, promises, and/or violence, for the purposes of prostitution.
Detectives found the girl in Fairfax at the end of April a few weeks after she was reported missing. She had run away after an argument with her mother and, according to Santa Rosa police officials, the girl had been sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution for three or four weeks. Her human trafficker had allegedly threatened to kill her and her family, causing her to fear for her life, if she called the police, according to police officials.
On May 7, Santa Rosa detectives identified Folsom in downtown Santa Rosa and arrested him for lying about his identity to officers. At the time of his arrest, Folsom was in the company of two girls listed as runaways from Marin County. Folsom was interviewed and later booked into Sonoma County Jail on unrelated charges.
Detectives worked with the Marin County District Attorney’s office to pursue a warrant for Folsom’s arrest for alleged crimes committed against the 14-year-old girl. A warrant was issued prior to Folsom's release from the Sonoma County Jail, and he was subsequently shuttled to Folsom to Marin County Jail.
With his plea, Folsom is expected to be sentenced Sept. 26 to approximately four years and eight months in prison, according to Santa Rosa police officials.
Folsom, who lives in the Bay Vista section of Hamilton, was detained at gunpoint by San Rafael police in December 2011 and faced charges of possessing a concealed loaded handgun and endangering a child.
In that incident, an officer saw Folsom walking with two girls, ages 14 and 15, on Novato Street in the Canal neighborhood when they scattered. The officer found a loaded hangun in the bed of a pickup truck and linked it to Folsom, who was arrested. The girls were returned to their parents.
The Santa Rosa Police Department, advocates at the Sonoma County Family Justice Center, Marin County District Attorney’s Office, Sonoma County Child Protective Services and numerous law enforcement agencies in Marin County all contributed to the most recent case.