NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Events such as the Super Bowl often attract predators targeting young teens to be forced into prostitution, officials warn.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported Thursday, authorities have warned it could happen to anyone from the city to the suburbs and parents have no idea.
Undercover FBI video obtained by CBS 2 showed a rare glimpse into the seedy world of forced prostitution – happening right in New York City and the Tri-State Area.
Girls as young as 12 years old are being targeted on the streets, at bus stations, and even at college campuses — and sold into the sex trade.
“He was literally beating, physically and mentally into me, that this is what I was going to do, whether I liked it or not,” said sex trafficking victim Danielle Douglas.
Douglas had just moved from New Jersey to Boston to attend Northeastern University when she said she became entangled with a man who would control her life for two years, Schneider reported.
“He basically said to me, ‘Oh, you know, I’m sorry. We were having a party here, but it got changed last minute.’”
She said she thought she was just dating in a typical college fashion. But after two weeks of being wined and dined, Douglas said, everything changed.
“He opened the door, shoved me out of the car — without my purse, my phone or anything,” she said. “He said to me, you’re going to go make money.”
Douglas said before she could get away, he was back.
“He came into the alleyway, beat me severely and threatened my life, and told me if I didn’t get in a car and start making his money, that he would kill me,” she said. “So that’s exactly what I did.”
For two years Douglas was forced to have sex for money, Schneider reported.
“The function that I had was very little, because all I could think about was surviving,” Douglas explained.
To many people, it may sound unbelievable incredible that a middle class suburban college girl could get sucked into a world where she was forced to sell her body for money. But Schneider spoke with Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale — the head of the New York Police Department’s Vice Unit — who said it happens everyday, and everywhere.
“If people think that my son or daughter is too smart to fall prey to that, we’ve seen girls with college degrees — girls, boys — that are articulate as can be. And I’m scratching my head saying, ‘How did they fall for this?'” Favale said.
Favale told Schneider those responsible are master manipulators, brilliant at finding weaknesses that these girls don’t even know exist.
“The perpetrators, they find that vulnerability, and they will spend a lot of time talking; creating that bond,” Favale said.
That is why police are using undercover stings to bust prostitution before more girls get trapped, Schneider reported.
“Sex buyers fuel the market, and when there’s no buyer, there’s no business,” said Lauren Hersh, of Equality NOW.
The Super Bowl is big business, Schneider reported. At the big game in Miami back in 2010, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children claims 10,000 women and children were trafficked there for sex.
“Prosecuting these girls and women is not the answer. Getting them help, providing them with comprehensive services, that is the answer,” Hersh said.
Danielle Douglas was able to escape, and now she wants to warn others, Schneider reported. She is featured in a documentary called “Tricked,” trying to help parents realize their children can be snatched right from under them.
“Pimps are no longer walking around in the streets as much. Now they’re on the Internet,” Douglas said. “And any one who has internet access is vulnerable, and can become a trafficking victim.”
And long after the Super Bowl leaves town, enforcement efforts will continue.
The NYPD said it has already made more than 300 prostitution arrests this year, in a 30 percent increase from January of last year.
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