DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver judge on Thursday sentenced a convicted human trafficker to 448 years in prison in what prosecutors described as the longest sentence ever given to a human trafficker in the U.S.

Nexstar’s KDVR was in the courtroom as victims of Robert Hawkins gave testimony about their experiences.

A jury in March convicted Hawkins of 18 counts, including human trafficking, pimping, sex assault and exploitation, some with minors. In addition to the prison sentence, Hawkins will be designated as a sexual predator and habitual criminal.

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Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said she hopes the lengthy sentence sends a message that human trafficking will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted aggressively.

Seven people came forward to testify in three different cases — four women, two girls and one man. A 13-year-old said Hawkins was 40 when she was manipulated by him.

“Between 2018 and 2021, Hawkins exploited four adult women and two children in Denver, preying on the victims’ vulnerabilities, using physical violence and threats to keep the victims under his control, and profiting from the sale of their bodies,” McCann’s office said in a release. “Hawkins also shot a sex buyer after he dropped off one of the victims.”

Judge Kandace Gerdes handed down the sentence.

Convicted human trafficker Robert Hawkins (Denver District Attorney’s Office)

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Hawkins’ attorney suggested he get a 40-year sentence once offered as part of a plea deal, which prosecutors hoped would help the victims avoid the trauma of trial. But he chose to go to trial instead.

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Prosecutors pointed to a pre-sentencing investigation report that said Hawkins was arrested, cited or detained for 57 offenses in more than 20 cases dismissed between 1997-2003. They also said he was placed on probation in 2012 when charged with pimping a child because the 16-year-old in the case was too afraid to speak.

Hawkins did not speak at the sentencing hearing. His attorney said he advised him not to do so because they plan to appeal. The attorney also doubted the severity of how prosecutors painted the victims in the case.