A 15-year-old girl made a trip to the restroom at a basketball game in Dallas and never returned. She was found a week and a half later in Oklahoma City – only after being trafficked and sold for sex online, according to a report on KHOU 11 News Houston on Twitter. Now fingers are being pointed at the Dallas Police.
A teen who went missing from a Dallas Mavericks game was later advertised online and sold for sex in Oklahoma City. An attorney for her family says multiple organizations could've stopped this trafficking from ever taking place — none did. https://t.co/0fQDl8QkkF
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) May 11, 2022
At a Dallas Mavericks basketball game with her father, the North Richland Hills teen disappeared after a trip to the restroom at the American Airlines Center arena. When she didn’t make it back to her seat, her father alerted police at the Arena but was told to go home and report the disappearance to his local police department – despite his daughter disappearing in the arena’s jurisdiction.
When he did contact the North Richland Hills police department, the frustrated father was told to contact Dallas PD since that’s where his daughter disappeared.
While the arena was searched, per protocol, Zeke Fortenberry, an attorney for the family, said police at the arena never asked for a photo of the missing teen. As for telling the father being told to go to contact North Richland Hills Police Department, the Dallas Police Department released a statement saying:
“Texas Family Code (51.03 b.3) dictates that missing juveniles are investigated as runaways unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction. Those cases per code are to be filed where the juvenile resides.”
The problem? This girl wasn’t a runaway, but a victim. Video from the American Airlines Center shows the teen leaving with an older man who, it turns out, got into the game with a counterfeit ticket, and, according to the Mavericks organization, is known for selling fake tickets to their games.
Fortenberry condemned the police departments for their failure to act and potentially stop a teenage girl from being sex trafficked.
Not only did the police fail to act, but they also failed to inform the family, leaving them at wit’s end and prompting them to reach out to a trafficking agency based out of Houston, TX – a city hundreds of miles away and in another county.
“The family was frustrated. After days of not getting any information from the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Police not taking any action, the family sought out the help of this agency in Houston,” Fortenberry said.
According to their website, Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative is an organization of Private Investigators who state on their website, that they:
“Assist Families and Law Enforcement Agencies in the Location & Recovery of Juvenile Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation.”
It was the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative’s technology that led within 24 hours to finding nude pictures of the North Texas teen that were now being used to traffic her to prospective clients.
The organization alerted Oklahoma City authorities who raided the Extended Stay America hotel and rescued the girl on April 8th, 10 days after she went missing. An investigation led Oklahoma City police to convicted sex offender Kenneth Nelson who purchased multiple hotel rooms explicitly for the purpose of sex trafficking. According to Oklahoma News 4(KFOR), Nelson spent time in prison for sexually assaulting a three-year-old child when he was fifteen. Eight people have been arrested in connection with the trafficking and are now facing charges ranging from human trafficking, distribution of child porn (for posting nude photos of the child online), and rape.
Speaking on behalf of the family, attorney Zeke Fortenberry said, “This girl was being sexually assaulted multiple nights. Any time she could have been rescued from that sooner would have been better.”
While Dallas metro area police agencies were passing the buck and absolving themselves from accountability – the most critical hours and days after her abduction were being lost. Time, that if acted upon with urgency, could have saved her and her family from tragedy.
Watch the video here.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick