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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Juvenile Prostitute, 16, Rescued in San Jose Police Sting


She's 16 years old… and she began her life of prostitution when she was just 11 years old. 

For this young woman, her days of selling her body are over. During a two-day prostitution sting last week along the Monterey Road Corridor, officers from the SJPD Human Trafficking Task Force rescued her. It is reported that the juvenile had spent a third of her life working as a prostitute before rescued during a sting last week that netted 14 arrests of alleged prostitutes and johns, according to the San Jose Police Department.

16 years old is an age for many first, and sadly this is the age that many commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC victims) get caught and rescued for their first time. But even sadder is the harsh reality that 71% of these child victims began being prostituted at age 12.

"She was cooperative," Sgt. Jason Dwyer of the San Jose Police Department said. "She spoke to our detectives. Very sad story. In her statement, she basically said she had been doing this since she was about 11 years old."

Police launched an undercover sting last Wednesday in which a female officer posed as a prostitute, resulting in the arrests and citations of eight people alleged to have solicited the officer.

San Jose police targeted the stretch of busy Monterey Road just south of downtown to Umbarger Road because of its known history of prostitution. It's also an area with a high concentration of motels. But just a couple of blocks away is a family friendly shopping center known as the Plant. Jerry Goodman and his wife say you wouldn't know prostitution was happening nearby.

"It's really hard to tell what goes on a lot of times behind a lot of these side streets," Goodman said.
Eight people were cited and arrested during the two day sting, a combination of johns and prostitutes.

The 16-year-old girl was not cited. Instead she was handed over to Child Protective Services. CPS will determine if and when she will return to her family. 

"These officers conducting these operations ... know they're helping and rescuing victims who are more helpless than an adult would be," Dwyer said. "They're helping someone who can't help themselves."

"For her not only to be exposed to it at that young age, but continuously doing it for the next five or six here we are we got her off the streets, now it's just a matter of getting her some of the services that we provide," Dwyer said. He went on to add, "This type of operation is so important because, unfortunately, it's not uncommon for us to come across juvenile prostitutes. Without a sustained effort to rescue them, they could get sucked into that type of work for life."

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen recognized the epidemic for what it is by saying, "It's modern day slavery is what it is. These girls are treated like property literally and moved around the Bay Area and around California where they are forced to be child prostitutes."

The District Attorney's office has one prosecutor whose full-time focus is on human trafficking cases.

"Where we are now with human trafficking prosecutions and human trafficking awareness is maybe where we were say 30 years ago about domestic violence," Rosen said.

Writers: George Kiriyama, Robert Salonga, & Anthony Gonzalez | Editor: Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

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