CHRISTIANSTED — A St. Croix who physically forced his 17-year old girlfriend to have sex with a much older Beeston Hill man in exchange for money admitted to his guilt in federal court today.
Zayvon Acoy, 31, appeared before Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon Jr. in U.S. District Court, and pleaded guilty today to one count of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in prostitution and sexual activity, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.
According to court documents, between May and July of 2017, the defendant, Zayvon Acoy, conspired with his co-defendant to transport Acoy’s minor-aged girlfriend (age 17) by vehicle from an area around Peter’s Rest in St. Croix to the co-defendant’s residence in an area of Beeston Hill in St. Croix, for the purpose of the co-defendant engaging the minor in unlawful sexual activity, specifically commercial sex.
The minor entered the co-defendant’s residence and the co-defendant had sexual intercourse with the minor. After engaging the minor in unlawful sexual activity, the co-defendant gave Acoy cash in exchange for the co-defendant’s engagement with the minor.
The charges arise from a 2017 arrest on rape and domestic violence charges. According to an affidavit filed with U.S. District Court on St. Croix, on August 22, 2017, a 17 year-old minor female filed a complaint with the VIPD against Acoy for allegedly strangling her, raping her and stealing her phone and laptop. In the affidavit, Special Agent Christopher McGrath said during the course of the interview, the young woman said Acoy “sold her into prostitution to an older man on two different occasion.”
VIPD officials stopped the interview and referred the matter to Homeland Security Investigations based on potential child sex trafficking charges.
“Jane Doe stated that Acoy pressured her to have sexual intercourse with an older man on two different occasions. On both occasions. Acoy transported Jane Doe to the home of the older man.” The victim told officers she saw $250 paid directly to Acoy on two occasions.
The victim identified James Phillip of Beeston Hill as the man who paid Acoy to have sex with the minor, from a lineup of six men reportedly of similar age and features. James Phillip of St. Croix was charged for paying a third person to have sex with a woman who he allegedly knew to be a minor. No other details about Phillip other than his name and place of residence are given in court documents.
At the time of Phillip’s arrest, Acoy’s indictment was under seal. It has been unsealed.
The victim reportedly said Phillip was inaccurately told she was 16 years old rather than 17. Phillip and the individual whose name is redacted are charged with sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion, under 18 U.S.C. section 1591.
Both Acoy and Phillip are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Acoy has also been charged in V.I. Superior Court with aggravated rape in the second degree, assault, assault and battery, all under domestic violence statutes, and petit larceny, for stealing phones and laptops from the victim.
According to documents filed in that case, Acoy, who had been living with the victim at the victim’s mother’s residence, allegedly stole the victim’s cell phone and refused to give it back. He then allegedly choked her so she could not breathe; slapped her and left her mother’s residence. Then he allegedly returned, took a laptop and CD burner belonging to the victim and left again.
Acoy is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2021 and faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard E. Potter is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative. Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information on the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, please see: https://www.justice.gov/psc.