A Miami Beach man who forced a slew of women into prostitution in South Florida and Nevada will spend 15 years in prison for beating and strangling one of them.
A judge on Tuesday sentenced Robert Burton, 34, who had been found guilty of domestic battery by strangulation, deriving support from prostitution, kidnapping and interfering with parental custody.
His conviction at trial was the first for Miami-Dade prosecutors’ Human Trafficking Unit, said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. She said many of the victims are homegrown runaways.
“It’s very much like domestic violence. It’s control. It’s terror. It’s beating,” she said. “It’s affection — with torture.”
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Burton forced at least six women into prostitution all while fathering several children with three of them. He faced similar charges in Nevada, but was not convicted in that state.
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Miami Beach police detective Traci Sierra has seen a lot to anger and confound her in the 13 years she has worked in the violent crimes and domestic violence unit. Women who stay with husbands or boyfriends through years of beatings and abuse. Women who call police for help and then attack the officer arresting the man who was hurting them. Women afraid to stay, but even more afraid to leave. Women killed because they believe the man hurting them will stop on his own.
But Sierra takes heart from her occasional successes, like the young woman with a 2-year-old son who finally left her boyfriend after he beat her head against the floor so hard he split her forehead open. Sierra sat with her for two hours before the girl broke down crying, saying “I have to do something.’ ”
“You have to come to a breaking point,” Sierra says. “You have to say enough is enough. If no one takes a stand it continues. Until they address the situation and take control of their lives nothing’s going to change.”
On Thursday, Sierra and hundreds of other women in Miami-Dade will take a symbolic stand at the New World Center and Florida International University campus to say enough is enough. They are doing so as part of a global campaign called One Billion Rising, which aims to get a billion people — the number of women the United Nations estimates will be raped or assaulted in their lifetime — to take action with flash mobs, protests and dances.
A man suspected of opening fire at a Wisconsin salon where his wife worked, killing three women and wounding four others, had a history of domestic abuse and had been arrested for slashing his wife’s tires a few weeks earlier, police said.
It wasn’t clear if Radcliffe Franklin Haughton’s wife was among the victims in Sunday’s shooting at the spa in Brookfield, a middle-to-upper class suburb west of Milwaukee. Haughton, 45, shot himself to death at the salon, police said.
Haughton’s wife sought court protection four days after he slashed her tires on Oct. 4, Brookfield police said. Police arrested him and a judge granted a four-year restraining order on Thursday. As part of the order, Haughton, of Brown Deer, was prohibited from owning a firearm.
Brookfield Police Chief Dan Tushaus declined to comment on whether Haughton had surrendered any weapons prior to Sunday’s salon rampage. Tushaus also said he wasn’t aware of a motive, but that investigators weren’t looking for anyone else in the shooting.