Teenage sex trafficking victim Cytonia Brown was arrested in 2004 for the murder of a 43-year-old pedophile who had bought her as a sex slave and raped her repeatedly. Despite being underage, she was tried in adult court and sentenced to life in prison for murder.
In 2004, at the age of 16 she was kidnapped and sex-trafficked by a pimp nicknamed “Kut-Throat” in Nashville, Tennessee.
Cyntoia came to be in Kut-Throat’s company after running away from home, and needing a place to stay.
After days of being repeatedly drugged, raped by different men at gunpoint and choked until she passed out at his hotel room, she was purchased by a real estate agent for sex.
News.com.au reports: Johnny Allen, 43, took her to his home. She said that she was terrified of Allen, who behaved in a threatening manner, had multiple guns in his home and had experience in the military. While laying in bed, Allen rolled over and she thought he was reaching for one of his guns on the floor.
She shot and killed him with a gun she kept stashed in her handbag.
The teenager was arrested for murder, tried and convicted as an adult. In 2006 she was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole when she is 69 years old.
Fox 17 Nashville recently published a report on Cyntoia’s life in prison, and it has brought renewed attention to her case.
That is why the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown is trending and celebrities including Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West and Cara Delevingne are posting messages of support.
There is also a petition circulating calling for a potential presidential pardon. It currently has over 100,000 signatures.
The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this. #FreeCyntoiaBrown pic.twitter.com/73y26mLp7u
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 21, 2017
A large part of the tragedy lays in the timing of Cyntoia’s sentencing. In 2017, she would be classified a sex slave and the court would treat her as a child human trafficking victim.
However, that wasn’t the case back in 2004 when she was arrested. The laws were completely different back then.
Derri Smith, the Founder of End Slavery TN, told Fox 17 “she did kill someone, she deeply regrets it, but she was a child and she was being exploited”.
Filmmaker Dan Birman spent seven years documenting Cyntoia’s case.
He explains that she is at the tail end of three generations of violence against women — Cyntoia, her grandmother, and mother were all raped.
“She had no chance,” Birman said.
Cyntoia, now 29, has earned her Associate’s Degree from Lipscomb University while in prison and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree.
She is also working side-by-side with the courts and the Juvenile Justice system as an unpaid consultant.
“I myself can create opportunities to help people [behind bars],” Cyntoia said.