Trafficked Girl Shoots Pimp, Gets Life Sentence

Sara Kruzan was raised by a drug addicted, abusive mother. She had no relationship with her imprisoned father. Eventually, she ended up in foster care. By age nine depression had set in and she attempted suicide more than once.

At age eleven, a 30 year old man named G.G. became the father figure she was missing. He showed her affection, told her she was special, and took Sara and her friends roller skating or to the movies. 

Girls like Sara are vulnerable to pimps, who know their story and manipulate them for personal gain. They know the girls are emotionally needy, seeking love and stability. So they offer a sense of love from a “father” or a “husband.”

Eventually, through a combination of “love,” abuse, and drugs, the pimps come to control the girls.

After Sara turned 13, G.G. told her she was “so special” that she should never give away sex for free. Adding terror for good measure, he raped her, and then forced her to walk the streets from six in the evening until six in the morning every day, so that she could be raped by other men – and turn all her money over to him. G.G. continued to rape her, as well.

Three years later she killed him.

Sara got a life sentence, without parole.

The circumstances of Sara’s behavior were not understood in 1994 when she was sentenced. Back then, most people thought girls sold sex because they simply had low morals. Today many still think that way, which is why young prostitutes are typically arrested instead of helped. Too many people didn’t – and still don’t – understand the dynamics behind child prostitution, or that trafficking is essentially slavery.

In fact, some have criticized reporting on Sara’s story, noting that the murder was premeditated and accomplished after Sara had moved away from G.G. But his abuse and betrayal likely played into her willingness and desire to murder him. I’d want to kill him, too, if I were her. At the least, her background would seem to point to mitigating circumstances.

Sara is now 32 and has spent half her life in prison. She is a model prisoner, and is asking Gov. Schwarzenegger for clemency.

If you would like to read more about Sara, go to chang.org, where you can also sign a petition asking Gov. Schwarzenegger to release Sara with time served.

Hopefully one day we will appreciate the horrific lives of trafficked girls, and aid them so that they can heal and lead productive lives.

Georgia Platts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on November 18, 2010, in feminism, gender, sexism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. joanna torres diaz

    Wow, coming from a female’s perspective here, but even with my opinion being somewhat biased, I don’t understand why she is sentenced STILL to life. Other crimes in self defense had been given less severe of a sentence, and they probably endured less of the damage that Sara went through. I can’t believe that the people involved in this case can’t think for at least two seconds what would they do if somebody from their family went through this. Not only was her body raped, but her spirit was broken. She had a rough childhood, then when she thought she had a place she could call home, it truly harmed her. Hopefully they can shorten her life sentence. It simply is not fair.

  2. The Randon One. #21

    This is a crazy story to read, while watching the video I was amazed with he knowledge and intellectual poise she had while holding the interview. I am sad to see the result of what happened in this case. This makes me think about our justice system here in California. I know she committed the crime, but given the circumstances I believe there should be some type of clemency. Sara was in a stage in life that was very critical to her success as a grown up. The horrible actions and negative treatment she received lead her to get trapped into a psychological mind game with the pimp. This man was a petafile, committing countless acts among many other girls as well as Sara.

  3. Sara Kruzan is an unprotected innocent girl that was used by her “father figure” for male sexual gratification likely for himself and others. G.G. , the father figure, used his father figure role to gain her trust and then brutalize her. By raping her and then forcing her into a life of prostitution he objectified her as a sexual thing, not a human child. For me, this case could be seen as self defense due to the harsh and illegal nature of her relationship with G.G. and his coercion to guide her into an illegal and unhealthy life of prostitution. Children are not equipped to make life decisions on their own; they rely on parental figures and role models to guide them in their emotional, psychological, and physical growth. I agree that there are mitigating circumstances that should warrant clemency in this case.
    S. Walker, 11.19.10

  4. After reading this post, I went online and did a little extra research on the topic. I came across a video of an interview with Sara, held in prison, of course, and was slightly blown away. While clearly upset during this interview, Sara maintained such poise, spoking clearly and truly the whole time. Reading your post shocked me on its own, but when I heard the story coming right from Sara’s mouth–observing her face, her reactions–it was chilling. I can’t fathom why she is there. Being a forced prostitute is a prison in its own right–how can someone punish her for being a slave, for being a prisoner in her own body? I feel as though this case was judged as solely a murder case, not a case of a young woman being abused, mistreated, and enslaved, who, in her own defense set out to free herself. How can someone look at this situation and dub Sara evil? Look what was done to her, and then ask yourself if you wouldn’t have at least considered doing what she did. Evil was G.G. who was adopting and luring innocent young females into a life of drugs and prostitution.

  5. This is the definition of injustice. I am a victim and survivor of human trafficking. I was chosen, “groomed”, and abducted in 1991 by a neighbor who was actually a convicted felon with over 25 aliases from Canada. I was taken from NJ to FL, and my perp’s intent was to sell me. My case was horribly mishandled. The police force in FL was corrupt, and I don’t think the idea that young, white girls were being sold as prostitutes to the highest bidder was on the radar in the early 90s. If I had killed my perp, I would have been arrested and convicted, too. I was held captive for seven days, tortured, raped, etc., and when I was finally found, the police did nothing to help me even though there was every kind of forensic evidence everywhere. The man who abducted me escaped justice. The legal system at that time was simply unable to prosecute these kinds of cases because the reality of the crimes wasn’t evident to those who were in positions of power. In my case, the FBI should have been involved. I was taken across state lines. In the end, nothing was ever done. I may be delusional, but I like to think that those in the legal system are more aware of the realities of human trafficking. It’s real, and women will do whatever it takes to escape their captors. They should not be punished for that. It’s hard enough to rebuild a life afterwards.

    • Thank you so much for your story. I am so glad that you are a survivor and that you are able to tell your story. I am so sorry that this happened to you, and that it continues to happen to young girls. On the bright side, the justice system is changing — though not fast enough yet. There is still much work to do to educate and enlighten the justice system and the public.

  6. After reading this story I could not believe what happened to Sara. I feel that getting life sentence was too harsh on her based on her story and evidence. I strongly understand where Sara is coming from and I would have done the same thing. She had a terrible life growing up as a child and for her to get raped by the only father figure that she had was terrifying. If she went to the police it would probably be better, but I don’t understand why she would get life sentence after all that she has been through. She probably does not regret what she did, but maybe she could have gotten help first. I could not believe that a girl had to go through this. I would think she went insane, but I don’t understand why she didn’t run away or get help when this was happening. Sara getting life sentence is ridiculous because there are some cases that should be life sentence, but those defendants only serve a few years. Our justice system should be looked at and be less bias.

  7. Sara’s story is both shocking, and sad. A life sentence is a harsh punishment for her, considering the circumstances. Her childhood was a nightmare. She grew up without the love, and care of parents. At eleven years old, she was too young, and naive to tell who was truly good, or bad, much less, who was a pimp, or not. There are many cases where convicts are given lesser sentences for worse crimes. In this case, she killed her pimp, G. G., who abused her physically, and emotionally, by repeatedly raping her, and taking the money she made from prostitution. Where were the authorities when she needed protection from this sexual exploitation, and slavery? Her motive for killing that animal is understandable. There is no real justice, when the justice system puts a victim, such as Sara, in jail for life, instead of finding real criminals, like G. G., and putting them behind bars. Hopefully, enough people will sign the petition asking Gov. Schwarzenegger for her pardon, and she will be released soon, with time served.

  8. How unfair!!! Its just shows how our justice system in 1994 was so unfair to women. This also give us an idea of how male supremacy was reigning over women in the streets and lawfully. Its an appalling story how the jury and the justice court fail to take Sara side because what she had done was out of self defense. It was surely either G.G had to die or Sara, and in our court system in 1994 if G.G. had committed the crime he would receive parole and probably a smaller sentence because he was the good guy, he took her in and she turned on him.

  9. It is so sad that she got life for this. I hope she gets to get out sometime soon! It just makes girls in the same situation as her scared to do anything in fear of being punished.

  10. Denial, denial, denial. When we lock victims away like Sara it is an act of denial by society. It is very difficult to face the reality of the horrific treatment this girl endured. We, as the observer, acknowledge the tragedy of her circumstance but at the same time wish to alleviate the discomfort this story arouses in us. We are uncomfortable with the idea of the actual abuse she underwent and uncomfortable that a young person is susceptible to becoming a murderer after that experience. The ladder example of our discomfort arises because if we accept Sara’s capacity for murder as a result of her abuse and that she was normal overall we must also relate this potential within ourselves. To quantify Sara’s character as defective is the fact that she is a prostitute, a very negatively stigmatized line of work legal or illegal. To avoid the recognition that we are capable of horrible acts or immoral behavior, even in response to abuse, we vilify and demonize the victim and then lock her away. The callus approach with which her sentence was handed down implies the disgust and intolerance in the attitude of the court. Watching some of her interview I agree with Sara and feel she genuinely admits her crime should be punished, but pointing out that this sentence is an affront to the 10th amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, the lack of understanding toward abused women is evident. Though Sara’s story is discouraging and sad there is hope when people rally together to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking and victims of abuse in order to foster a greater relationship between justice and social understanding.

  11. I can’t believe this. This is just wrong on so many levels. She was abused and for her this was the only way to stop it. I would also probably kill him if I were in her shoes. Just to even beginning thinking about what she went through, for her killing him probably felt like a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. Because no other female would have to deal with him. I don’t agree with the sentencing she got. I have watching many CSI episodes and yes I think she should have at least spent 1-2 years maximum in prison for murder, but not a life sentence without parole. That is just unbelievable that our government would do that.

  12. This story shows how little valued a woman’s life is in this country. Society decides who is worthy of saving and rallying behind and who is not. This poor woman was terrorized as a child by a man who victimized her and yet his life was worth more than hers? I would be eager to see who decided this woman’s fate when she was a young girl. To this day women are victimized by the community after they have been raped or beaten. Women think it is banter at the water cooler to talk about if they truly believe other women’s’ allegations of rape. Why do we second guess each other? Is it not inherently wrong for a person to take what is not rightfully theirs? This would be a totally different story if he had burgled her home and she shot him in defense. Why is that? Had he not already committed more egregious crimes to the detriment of this young girl? This goes back to the devaluation of women who do not fit into the mold of what are the American morals. From this story it seems she killed this man at the age of 16, before the age of sexual consent yet she given such harsh punishment. I will be sharing this post and going to the website in support of clemency because the government should not be allowed to further victimize a victim!

  13. This story is so heartbreaking to me. This girl was given no other option than to kill her pimp in my mind. How do you escape, go on to live when you are living in constant fear from day to day, not knowing how often you are going to be raped by your pimp in addition to all the hours he’s making you “work” the street? And the sentence Sara was given is a lesson to other prostitutes as if to choose one horrible sentenced freedom-less life over another; live a nonexistent life where you are violated constantly, with other horrible drawbacks such as contracting STIS or an unwanted pregnancy, or face a life sentence for murder. Both are life sentences if a prostitute does not escape or isn’t helped by law enforcement. Sara’s horrible upraising by her drug-addicted mother and suicidal tendencies and depression from her rough childhood also make me wonder, was she unable to try for an insanity plea in court or was it overlooked? Obviously this girl was lured into this trap because she was emotionally unstable in the first place, her circumstances and background should have made for a justifiable case and she never should have received such a sentence.

  14. I recently heard two speakers discussing topics that are painfully applicable to this article.
    The first was discussing the ways in which teenage girls are lured into a false sense of comfort and love by adult men who then abuse them. It is clear that Sara found herself in such a situation. When those men were asked why they chose young women, they replied “Because a young female mind is easy to mold, like clay”–more like manipulate and exploit.
    The second speaker discussed CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) and the way it is dealt with in the state of California. The speaker admitted that it took the state many years–no, decades–to address the real issues regarding child/teen prostitution. Apparently up until recently lawmakers did not see any real problem in adult men befriending and later “pimping” adolescent and teen females. It is unfortunately because of this flawed system that Sara is now behind bars. The fact that she was manipulated, raped and exploited did not factor into the decision to give her a life sentence for killing the man responsible. The only way to provide her any sort of amends for this injustice would be to release her immediately. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the judicial system has matured enough to acknowledge that her sentencing was a gross injustice.

  15. Even by 1994 standards, Sara Kruzan certainly should not have been subject to the life sentence that she received. Without parental guidance, she was basically manipulated by her caretakers into a damaging and illegal role early on as a child. This, I believe, is the primary cause of her emotional breakdown and it is a sad state when we equate child abuse and sexual sentence and then turn around to punish the victim. Trafficked women everywhere should be released, so scenarios such as this one do not occur again.

  16. I was watching Taken. What horrified me is that the law enforcement got money if they turned a blind eye. That is disgusting and just horrible. Though she did murder the man, Sara should have received a year in jail, maybe a few months, or just community service, counseling, therapy. If she did not kill him what would happen to G.G? Would they put him behind bars? Would he get what he deserved for abusing her and so many others? Besides being put on the registered sex offender list what would they do to him? No one wants someone who could attack innocent people cruising the streets and looking for the next victim he could prey upon. I know I do not. I mean this man raped her, then made her work the corners, and took all the money from her. Also she probably received STIs, as well as pregnancies, and psychological trauma. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl, woman, boy, man, animal what have you. No one has the right to place their hands on you or verbally abuse you. We’ve got to get more petitions out there to stop trafficking, slavery, and what not. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to stop these atrocities once and for all.

  17. Gds1 Gretchen Sturkey

    This is outrageous. Many women are forced everyday to prostitute in the most Dangerous places by pimps. Law enforcement always overlooks the victims and focuses on the pimp. While this is important the girls victimized still need to be interviewed and counseled. In this situation the girls defense should have been the battered wife syndrom. It is very close to this kind of brainwashing and battery in order for the pimp to keep control and fear in the girl. After so much abuse ones mind becomes corrupt and this has been proven many times. This case needs to be appealed and re visited to bring proper justice. I am appauled and even more eager to join the criminal justice field to abolish sentences like this for people who are truly victims turned perp. Sad story. I signed the petition and pray this girl will gain freedom and therapy.

  18. This story is an example of the tragedy that is our legal system. A woman like Sara is a victim, not a criminal. In a perfect world she would not have been sentenced to prison. To me it sounds like Sara did time in “the prison” of her years of abuse. Someone like her should be in intensive therapy not serving time. This is exceptionally sad to me. I would like to think of myself as a just and rational person. I agree with harsh sentencing for premeditated murder. In this case even if there had been a plan to kill her rapist and abuser, she is still not at fault for her actions. G.G. was not an innocent man with innocent intentions. He sounds like a monster. He was killed by a tortured woman but he put the cards in play for his own fate. He raped a child. He prostituted a child. Lastly he abused a child. I find that all very sick. I am always astounded but what people like G.G. are capable of. I feel sorry for Sara, what happened was unfair and I feel like someone should be working on cases like these to help the real victims of these tragedies. Sara is the victim in this situation.
    I am concerned that if she were to be released from prison what would happen to her? She has been jailed for over half her life; and I doubt she received any real treatment for the abuse she suffered. I would hope that if she were released that someone or some organization could help her with therapy and treatment. I would also hope that there is support for her to get on her feet and find a safe place to call home. I think that those areas are another arena that the current system lacks in. People being released from prison under these sorts of circumstances need help and I hope Sara gets that help.

  19. I don’t know if she should be in prison now that I think about it. She was groomed, imprisoned, and then forced into prostitution because of her pimp. He has not been locked away for life. He has also done this to others. She was robbed of her childhood and innocence. No one can ever really bounce back from something like that. It’s not right how society works.

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