A TEEN who police say was trafficked after going missing from a Dallas Mavericks game was found after her nude photos appeared online.
The 15-year-old went to use a restroom before halftime of the Mavericks game against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 8, but her dad says she never returned to her seat.
Eight people have now been arrested in connection to the teen’s disappearance on a variety of charges, including Kenneth Nelson, Sarah Hayes, and Karen Gonzales.
Nelson, Hayes, and Gonzales have all been charged with human trafficking, conspiracy, and computer crimes, Fox25 reported.
Surveillance footage showed the teen leaving the American Airlines Center, but not with her father.
She was found 11 days later on April 18 by police in an Oklahoma City hotel. The girl’s parents identified her through nude photos that were posted on the internet in sex ads.
“She was gone missing a total of 11 days,” attorney Zeke Fortenberry, who is representing the family, told KIII-TV.
Fortunately, the teen was found alive. She is not being named as she was allegedly a sex trafficking victim.
Nelson, a known sex offender, had an identification card with a different name that he was using to rent the Oklahoma City hotel rooms, KIII-TV reports.
Gonzales is accused of taking the illicit photos of the teen.
Hayes reportedly admitted to investigators that she saw the photos being taken and later posted them in the online sex ads.
But Fortenberry says the other organizations are also to blame, as he believes more could have been done to possibly prevent the teen’s disappearance.
Now, the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks, the Dallas Police Department, and an Oklahoma City hotel are all being named by the teen’s attorney, saying they could have done more to prevent the teen’s abduction.
“Our intent is to put [these organizations] on notice that we’re pursuing claims against them for their negligence and other causes of action,” Fortenberry told KIII-TV.
The teen’s father contacted police during the game when he realized his daughter disappeared.
Fortenberry claims the man was told to contact the North Richland Hills Police to report his missing daughter because that’s where they live.
A back-and-forth ensued, with North Richland Hills Police telling the man they couldn’t help because the teen went missing in Dallas.
“The family was frustrated,” Fortenberry told KIII-TV.
In addition to naming the American Airlines Center and the Mavericks, Fortenberry said he’s also focusing on the Oklahoma City hotel because he believes the staff missed critical signs.
“When a 40-something year old man walks in with a 15-year-old girl and rents multiple hotel rooms and then there is traffic coming in and out of those rooms, those are red flags,” Fortenberry told KIII-TV.
The attorney did commend the efforts of Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative, a human trafficking agency based in Houston, for their work in finding the teen.
It was the agency’s face-recognition technology that helped locate the nude photos of the teen, which led to the Oklahoma City Police finding her and arresting the eight individuals.
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