Former WCW Wrestling Champ Faces Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
Former professional wrestler Harrison Norris Jr., 42, a/k/a â€œHardbody Harrison,â€ was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison for committing multiple violations of federal sex trafficking and forced labor statutes in connection with a scheme to force women into prostitution. Norris was a champion with the World Championship Wrestling company, which was eventually bought by — and folded into — World Wrestling Entertaining (WWE) owned by Vince McMahon.
According to police reports and court papers, Norris was the ringleader of a human trafficking ring that was as brutal as it was lucrative.
â€œThese vulnerable American victims were lured by false promises to train as professional wrestlers and suffered horrific physical, sexual, and psychological abuse,â€ said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Departmentâ€™s Civil Rights Division.
â€œI commend these women for coming forward and helping the Department hold accountable those who engaged in this shameful conduct,â€ she said.
US Attorney David E. Nahmias said of the sentencing, â€œDefendant Norris ran a forced prostitution ring in which women were sexually assaulted, held in debt, and forced to work and perform sex acts against their will. This heinous conduct deserved the severe sentence handed down today.”
“Human trafficking removes an individualâ€™s freedom to choose and can have long-lasting, psychological effects on the victims. In this case numerous victims were brave enough to come forward and testify at trial against their captor and abuser, defendant Norris. The jury specifically found aggravated sexual abuse by defendant Norris and the judge entered a sentence that should deter others from exploiting their fellow human beings,â€ said Nahmias.
Norris was sentenced to life in prison and lifetime supervised release, and he was ordered to pay a $2,400 fine. He was convicted on November 22, 2007, on 24 counts, including one count of conspiracy; four counts of holding women in a condition of peonage; five counts of forced labor; five counts of trafficking with respect to peonage; five counts of commercial sex trafficking; three counts of witness tampering; and one count of obstructing enforcement of a peonage investigation.
Peonage is defined as involuntary servitude imposed to extract repayment of an indebtedness.
Since 2001, Norris had been running a prostitution business in the Atlanta, Ga., area. From April 2005 to August of 2005, Norris and his co-conspirator Aimee Allen, recruited and forced women, many of whom were poor, homeless or addicted to drugs, to work for Norris as prostitutes and servants in his two homes.
Norris lured several victims to his homes by falsely promising that he would train them to become successful wrestlers in his female wrestling company. Allen, who pled guilty and cooperated with the government, testified against Norris at trial, and was later sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison.
One of Allenâ€™s key roles in the conspiracy was to convince victims that Norrisâ€™s wrestling company was legitimate. According to the evidence at trial, another co-conspirator, Cedric Jackson, kidnaped at least one victim and provided her to Norris. Jackson was previously sentenced to serve five years in prison.
Witnesses testified that Norris isolated the victims from their families and friends and monitored them at all times to prevent their escape. Norrisâ€™s control over the victims included a strict military structure that he imposed in his home. The defendant assigned each of his victims to a â€œsquadâ€ overseen by a â€œteam leader,â€ a woman conspiring with Norris to keep the victims in servitude. Allen was one such team leader.
Evidence at trial established that forced acts of prostitution occurred at nightclubs, in apartments, at hotels, in the back of Norrisâ€™ truck, and in other locations in North Carolina and northern Georgia. The profits from Norrisâ€™ forced prostitution business were collected by him and held in his safe, along with the victimsâ€™ identifications and cellular phones. The victims also testified that they were forced to engage in sexual conduct with Norris.
In addition to forcing the women to work as prostitutes, Norris made the victims work in and around his two homes in Cartersville, performing domestic labor including hauling trees, laying sod, and painting.
The evidence at trial further established that Norris set strict rules and fined the women for such infractions as talking too much or failing to exercise. In addition, Norris kept the women financially indebted to him by charging them for food, medicine, rent, and cigarettes. Norris then told the victims that they could not leave until their debts were paid, all the while continuing to increase the debt he claimed he was owed.
Human trafficking prosecutions such as this case are said to be a top priority at the US Department of Justice. In the last seven fiscal years, DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the US Attorneyâ€™s Offices throughout the country, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years. In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.