Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mozie: Affirming Life Sentence for Child Sex Trafficking

In U.S. v. Mozie, No. 12-12538 (May 22, 2014), the Court affirmed the child sex trafficking convictions and life sentence imposed on Mozie. The Court rejected Mozie’s argument that the “reckless-disregard-of-the-victim’s age” standard of the child sex trafficking statute so lowered the standard of proof as to render the statute unconstitutionally vague. The Court pointed out that the term is a familiar legal concept. The Court rejected the argument that the district court constructively amended the indictment. The indictment charged that Mozie both knew and recklessly disregarded the fact that his victims were under 18 years old. The district court instructed the jury that it could convict Mozie if it found either that he knew the victims were under 18 or recklessly disregarded this fact. The Court reiterated the well-settled rule that no constructive amendment occurs when an indictment charges in the conjunctive and jury instructions charge in the disjunctive. Turning to the sentence, the Court rejected Mozie’s argument that his sentence was substantively unreasonable. “Simply stated, ‘sexual abuse is grossly intrusive in the lives of children and is harmful to their normal psychological, emotional, and sexual development in ways which no just or humane society can tolerate.’” (quoting Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407, 468 (2008) (Alito, J., dissenting)). The Court also rejected Mozie’s Eighth Amendment challenge to his sentence, pointing to evidence that he struck and chocked one victim, and essential kidnapped others.