Illinois man found guilty of sex trafficking in federal jury trial

An Illinois man was found guilty of sex trafficking by a federal jury, Thursday.

After a four-day trial, 29-year-old Darnell Deshawn Stennis was convicted of sex trafficking by force, coercion, fraud, obstruction and transporting an individual to engage in prostitution, according to the District of Minnesota United States Attorney’s Office.

Between January and March of 2019, Stennis took a woman between Minnesota and North Dakota for prostitution, according to evidence from the trial. He also used physical violence and threats to force another woman to perform commercial sex acts.

On March 25, 2019, Bloomington police responded to a report of yelling and what sounded like a person being thrown into a wall at La Quinta Inn. They found Stennis and the two victims, and "obvious signs of a disturbance" — which included a bent towel bar and a toilet seat in pieces.

One of the victims told police Stennis had assaulted her after she told him she didn’t want to continue commercial sex work. Authorities say Stennis choked her, hit her head on the towel rack and pushed her onto the toilet. Stennis was then taken into custody.

His sentencing is set for a later date.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Bloomington Police Department.