Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


The Prominent Former Developer From Burbank Who Became a Pimp

Photo by doisneau via the LAist Featured Photos pool
We need to hear from you.
Today during our spring member drive, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Once upon a time, Michael Mersola was the executive of a wealthy construction and real estate family business in Burbank. An old story from the Times archives in 1993 says that he came from a well-regarded family that would show up to city council meetings, cheer at local football games and do all the other things you might expect from a well-connected family of developers.

But then in the early 1990s, there were reports that Mersola was hanging around high schools in Burbank and talking to girls. Police looked into it and found evidence that he was offering underage girls cash, housing and pot if they would have sex with him. He was later convicted of pandering and attempting to bribe a witness in that case. He served a five year sentence for his crimes.

Now a story from The Daily News details how the Mersola went back to his old tricks—luring girls with cash, housing and weed and sex trafficking. The newspaper spoke with one of his victims who goes by the pseudonym Matilda Evans.

Back in 2006, Evans said Mersola picked her up in Burbank and paid her to have sex with him. She was 16, and he was 70. She cut things off after a few weeks and she was never pimped out to other men, but her encounter with Mersola continued to trouble her. She went to the Burbank Police with her allegations, but police there never filed any charges—for reasons that aren't clarified in The Daily News story. Evans' mother called up the LAPD and their investigation uncovered evidence Mersola was pimping out girls in Hollywood as young as 13. He served three years of a 5-year sentence—and he was released from prison last summer. (He wouldn't offer up comment to the paper.)

Support for LAist comes from

The full story is worth a read, because it talks about how it's not just underage girls from poor countries who are getting pimped out on the streets of Southern California. It's young troubled girls, girls in foster care and even girls from the suburbs.

"I just wanted it to be brought to light," Evans told The Daily News. "People think, 'Oh it can't happen to me.' But it happens way too often."

Los Angeles County: Major National Sex Trafficking Hub
Five Men Charged with Trafficking Minors to North Hollywood for Prostitution
School Board Member Charged With Pimping, Rape, Attempted Murder

Most Read