Eight people have been arrested in Oklahoma City for allegedly trafficking a 15-year-old Texas girl, who was abducted at a Dallas Mavericks game last month when she left her father to go and use the bathroom.
The girl’s family is also demanding answers from Texas police about why they refused to investigate their daughter’s disappearance and were forced to locate her themselves with the assistance of the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative (TXCTI)—a nonprofit organization that was able to track down nude images of the girl on a prostitution website.
The teen went to the bathroom at the American Airlines Center on April 8 and never returned, her family’s attorney Zeke Fortenberry of the Fortenberry Firm, PLLC
She was missing for 10 days until Oklahoma City law enforcement located her at an Extended Stay America hotel— roughly 200 miles away — on April 18.
The Oklahoma City Police Department has arrested Saniya Alexander, Melissa Wheeler, Chevaun Gibson, Kenneth Nelson, Sarah Hayes, Karen Gonzales, Thalia Gibson and Steven Hill in connection to the trafficking case. Gibson is charged with offering to engage in prostitution; Nelson, Hayes and Gonzales are charged with human trafficking and distribution of child pornography; Hill is charged with rape; Gibson and Alexander have felony warrants; and Wheeler has a robbery warrant.
Mr Fortenberry said despite the family’s pleas to the Dallas Police Department, authorities refused to investigate the case citing Texas Family Code laws, which consider missing juveniles to be runaways “unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction.”
“The systems and organizations involved in this case continually failed the victim. She should never have had contact with the man at the Mavericks game. The Dallas Police should have worked quickly to investigate leads and locate the teenager before she was trafficked to Oklahoma,” Fortenberry told Fox in a statement.
The girl’s father said “My daughter was missing in Dallas, this is a Dallas case, but they refused to open a case for her.”
The Dallas Police Department told Fox that officers took a report and included the missing teen in a bulletin.
Mr Fortenberry also slammed the Extended Stay America hotel for allowing a registered sex offender with a fake name and ID to rent rooms.
“The Extended Stay America hotel in Oklahoma City put profits ahead of people by turning a blind eye to the sexual exploitation occurring right before their eyes. This victim’s life will forever be changed. We hope to hold accountable those responsible and create change within these organizations so that this never happens to any other child,” he said.