The United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated convictions of two men previously acquitted of sex trafficking charges.
Monday the court reinstated convictions of Daron Jungers, 42, of Sioux City, IA and Ronald Bonestroo, 59, of Sioux Falls. The court also ordered the district court to proceed with sentencing.
In February 2011, Jungers and Bonestroo were both charged in separate indictments with Commercial Sex Trafficking after answering online advertisements posted by undercover police officers. Jungers arranged to pay for sex with what he believed to be an 11-year-old girl in Sioux Falls and was arrested after he arrived at the undercover location.
Bonestroo arranged to pay for sex with what he believed would be two 14-year-old girls in Sioux Falls and was arrested after he arrived at that undercover location.
Homeland Security Investigations, along with South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted the online undercover operation.
Later in 2011, the two men were sentenced by federal juries in Sioux Falls. Jungers faced a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison with a maximum of life imprisonment. Bonestroo was sentenced to a minimum 10 years in prison with a maximum life imprisonment.
The men filed appeals of their Sex Trafficking convictions claiming the charge only applies to suppliers of commercial sex acts, not consumers. Two US District Judges acquitted the Jungers charge in December 2011 and Bonestroo's charge in January 2012.
Monday's ruling by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was the first time the Sex Trafficking issue was held by any federal court of appeals. The court determined the statute does apply to both suppliers and consumers of commercial sex acts.
"Sex trafficking of children is reprehensible and whoever is involved in the process, whether it be the supplier or consumer, should be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson said in a news release.