Chicago sex trade exposed: innocent youth sold into prostitution - New York News

Chicago sex trade exposed: innocent youth sold into prostitution

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The sick business of human trafficking is not in some third world country, it is right here in Chicago. Children are being sold for sex and sadly, this is not a new thing, it's just taken a while to recognize the true face of prostitution.

The undercover Chicago police video to the left shows how blatantly the sex trade operates, even in broad daylight. But cops say the days of looking at this as a mere nuisance crime are over.

"I start seeing that there's 11, 12, 13-year-old girls being used as prostitutes, and where some guy, some pimp, is basically making money off of them, it turns your stomach," Chicago Crime Bureau Chief Nick Roti said.

You can't tell their ages from the video, you can't even be sure all the "girls" are female. But experts say if they're not underage now, most of them were when they started.

"My mother was a prostitute and my father was a former pimp so basically I grew up into it," former teen prostitute "Patricia" said.

Patricia is an adult now and doesn't work in "the life" anymore. She works to rescue other young girls, many of whom have the same story of abuse and despair.

"From the ages of 8 to 12, I had been molested, and then when I decided to tell my mother, she didn't really believe me, so she put me out," Patricia said.

The FBI says she was just the kind of girl sex traffickers' target.

"They look for children who are homeless, who they might see kind of wandering the streets. They look for kids from dysfunctional families," FBI Victim Specialist Patrice Heelan said.

Patricia says her pimp was the only male role model she had in her life.

"He was the only, the only male relationship that I felt like he cared about my well-being and things like that, I guess you could say a father figure," Patricia said.

According to FBI special agent Gregory Wing, that's the kind of relationship the pimps try to build.

"That grooming process begins with that nice friendly gesture, come on in, I'll take care of you, I love you, you're gorgeous, let me take you shopping," Wing said.

Patricia thought her pimp was her "boyfriend," but eventually she was just one of his girls.

"The youngest one he had was like fifteen," Patricia said. "He actually said they were stupid, they listened more, they listened better, they listened to direction."

The FBI and Chicago police have a brand new task force, armed with a new state law that recognizes child sex workers - anyone under 18 - as a victim, not a criminal.

"It also protects minors in a way that pimps or traffickers cannot say that they"believed" the victim was at least 18 years of age," Sgt. StacyWalker said.

As for customers, researchers interviewed more than 100 johns in Chicago and nearly all 'claim' they would never 'knowingly' buy sex from a child. But Patricia says that's a lie, that many men want the younger girls for the worst reasons.

"When I was 14 and 15 in the trade, older men just felt like they could do whatever,during the sexual act, "Patricia said. "They felt like they could get away with a lot more than they could with an older woman. Doing horrible things, horrible like urination and spitting and choking."

The pimps who claim to protect them are often just as dangerous. Patricia's trafficker once beat her so badly, she was in a coma for three weeks, and she still lied to police to protect him.

"I guess I really held out on the thought that he really loved me, that I was really important to him, and I didn't want to see him go to jail," Patricia said.

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