Criminal charges have been lodged against men who responded to a 14-year-old's solicitation of money in exchange for sex on various online websites.
According to The Monitor, the teen posted images of herself on several websites, including Facebook, in order to seek clients to pay her for sex. She'd also used her cellphone to share the photos she'd posted on social networking sites.
The situation came to light after the teen admitted to her mother she had contracted an STD. Her mother, in turn, called local authorities in Pharr, Tex.
The Monitor reported police Chief Ruben Villescas confirmed the teen had been selling herself online to men and had been sharing explicit messages and photos of herself to attract clients. Authorities say the girl, who is a suspected illegal immigrant, acted upon her own accord and did not have a pimp, nor does she appear to have been coerced.
“She was the one putting herself out there, wearing lingerie and asking for attention,” said a law enforcement official unauthorized to comment on the case, reported The Monitor, “She would lure them in.”
Pharr police contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on Apr. 12 after being contacted by the girl's mother. With parental permission, ICE agents took the cell phone and began “conversing with the unknown males via text messages,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. Magistrate Court in McAllen. Purportedly, while police were in possession of the cell phone, it was receiving text messages from men.
Undercover ICE agents told one client, who'd contacted the phone while authorities were in possession of it, she was 14-years-old, but the man still continued to discuss pricing and meeting for sex. Three men that had allegedly tried to engage with the 14-year-old girl with the intention to have sex have been arrested.
Authorities say they are still investigating to see if any other men solicited sex from the teen or if any other teens are engaging in similar behavior.
“What we have been looking at has been causing us to look at this case further and see if there are any other young women who are victims,” Chief Villescas said. “Even in this case, it was done over Facebook and texts and solicitation being done over the Internet or some form of technology,” he said. “It’s not just tied down to one city’s jurisdiction ... and that’s what makes this crime one of which we have to see what large scale it is, if not just with this 14-year-old, but other young girls and men who might be victim to this.”
The teen has reportedly received medical treatment.
The men arrested in connection with this case are 42, 40, and 28 years of age and were arrested in connection with separate planned meetings. Hispanically Speaking News reported the three men are also illegal immigrants.
If convicted, at least two of the men face between 10 years and life in prison. The third faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, said The Monitor.