Van Lawson Williams preyed on runaway girls 30 years his junior, luring them into prostituting for him by making them think he loved them, a federal judge said Tuesday before sentencing him to five life terms in prison.
A jury convicted Williams, 49, of Fort Lauderdale, of sex trafficking of minors and attempted sex trafficking of a minor after an October trial.
The girls were between ages 12 and 16 when Williams pimped them in his Fort Lauderale home in the 2000 block of Northwest 30th Avenue.
He told some of the girls they were his "ride or die" — convincing some of them they were like a family, federal prosecutors said.
Williams had sex with several of the girls and gave some of them marijuana and crack cocaine, authorities said.
"He created a relationship with these young women, starting out with the notion that the relationship was real and affectionate and that it would be long-lasting," Senior U.S District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley said.
Williams soon told the girls to help pay the bills by prostituting and giving him some or all of the money, prosecutors said.
Williams is appealing his convictions and insisted that all of the girls lied when they said he pimped them out between August 2011 and May 2012. He said he was a father figure trying to help girls who were troubled and prostituting before they met him.
"You made me feel real bad about myself," a now-16-year-old victim told Williams in court, reading aloud from her pink journal.
The judge said the jurors and he believed the girls' testimony and felt that Williams "committed blatant perjury" when he testified in his defense, saying the girls baby-sat his 7-year-old daughter.
The judge said he was particularly struck by the articulate and thoughtful trial testimony of the youngest victim, a 12-year-old girl. He said she was "living proof that someone can go through something as hard as this" and go on to live a productive life.