The Importance of the Barnhill Case (#barnhillcase)
On October 9th, all interested citizens will have the opportunity to witness the sentencing of Linwood Barnhill, the 48 year-old former D.C. police officer who forced underage teenagers to sell sex out of his Southeast Washington, D.C., apartment. Barnhill’s case is not an outlier.
Barnhill, who served on the police force for 24 years and retired in advance of his trial, has pled guilty to two counts of pandering minors for prostitution and one count of possession of child pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Barnhill’s attorney negotiated an eight-year sentence, which is lower than the nine to twelve years imprisonment that the federal sentencing guidelines recommend for these charges. At this time, there it is unclear whether U.S. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer will accept the negotiated sentence.
Most Americans view sex trafficking as an international phenomenon and are not even aware about the sex trafficking networks present in their own neighborhoods, including in the D.C. metropolitan area. Media coverage can raise public awareness, which is a vital element in the fight against sex trafficking. Cases such as this one present an opportunity to raise awareness about sex trafficking in the D.C. area. However, the media did not report on this case as extensively as it could have.
Barnhill will be sentenced only a few days after the 6th annual Stop Modern Slavery WalkFest (http://www.firstgiving.com/team/273028), which seeks to raise awareness and funds in the fight against human trafficking. As thousands of people march on the mall on October 6th to raise awareness about human trafficking, it is disheartening that one of our police officers, a person who is supposed to protect our city, was victimizing the youth of our city in such a horrific way. We hope you’ll join us for the walk.
We would also like to encourage you to be present at the sentencing of Barnhill to send a strong message that the D.C. community will not tolerate human trafficking in any form, whether committed by a police officer or by anyone else. The sentencing will take place on Thursday, October 9th at 12pm in Courtroom 8 of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Finally, join us to help raise awareness about human trafficking by using the hashtag #barnhillcase on social media.
By Daan Krauss