2017 Staffing
Support Staff3

The Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division is comprised of a highly-trained and specialized team of Deputy District Attorneys, District Attorney Investigators, paralegals and secretaries who are all dedicated to the just prosecution of perpetrators of sexual assault and human trafficking crimes. Guided by Division Chief Patrick Espinoza and Assistant Chief Kate Flaherty, the division strives to treat the victims of sexual assaults with compassion, dignity and respect.

Attorneys and staff in this division handled a number of significant cases including prosecutions for sexually-motivated homicide, sexual assaults by strangers, acquaintances or family members, lewd acts with children, non-domestic violence stalking, human trafficking, pimping, pandering, failing to properly register as sexual offenders, indecent exposure and civil commitments of sexually-violent predators.

Human trafficking prosecutions are onfiled primarily in conjunction with pimping and pandering charges. Felons, intent on profiting from this illicit business, seduce vulnerable young women and minors into prostitution throughout San Diego County. In addition to prosecuting offenders, the division works with law enforcement and community-based organizations, which try to rehabilitate victims and re-integrate them back into society. The division has one Deputy District Attorney and two District Attorney Investigators assigned full-time to the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, a multi-agency organization which seeks to disrupt and dismantle human trafficking in the county through a comprehensive, collaborative and regional response.

The division is committed to protecting the community from sexually-violent predators through the pursuing civil commitment petitions resulting in hospitalization and treatment of offenders found to be a substantial danger to the public. The division works to keep the public safe and informed as sexually-violent predators reach the community treatment phase through community notification and public meetings.

Significant cases in 2017 included:

People v. Eduardo Torres
A 74-year old woman was attacked inside her son’s Del Cerro home by a knife-wielding intruder, who gained entry by smashing through the glass doors. The defendant, Eduardo Torres, dragged the elderly woman into a bedroom with the knife to her throat. The defendant then demanded that another woman in the home perform a sexual act while he stabbed the elderly female, severing her carotid artery. Eduardo Torres pleaded guilty to murder with special circumstances and oral copulation and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

People v. John David Sanchez
On February 26, 2016, a 27-year old woman took an Uber home after a night of drinking. The Uber driver, John David Sanchez, raped the victim in the backseat of his car when she passed out during the ride home. During the assault, the victim regained consciousness, pushed the driver off of her, walked home and immediately called police.

During the investigation, the detective discovered that the defendant had sexually-assaulted numerous young girls and saved the video recording of the sexual assaults on his computer.  Some of his victims were as young as 12-years-old. The young teens were previously unaware they had been sexually-assaulted because the defendant had rendered them unconscious by providing them Xanax and alcohol.  On the day of trial, the defendant pleaded guilty to all 34 charged counts. The judge sentenced the defendant to more than 80 years in state prison.

People v. Jacob Skorniak
On New Year’s Eve 2015, a 21-year old German exchange student was celebrating with friends in Mission Beach. After the group of friends took an Uber to another bar, the victim decided to walk home because she realized she had drank too much. Her next memory after exiting the Uber was being in the passenger seat of a different vehicle where the driver was holding a knife to her. The driver, Jacob Skorniak, drove her to an isolated dark location where he cut off her clothing. Skorniak raped the victim while she cried and begged him not to hurt her. During the assault, her phone inadvertently dialed her father in Germany who heard his daughter being assaulted.

When the case moved forward, the victim went home to Germany and declined to return to the United States for court proceedings. The case proceeded without the victim’s testimony. The defendant was convicted after a jury trial and sentenced to 81 years-to-life in state prison.