Sex Slaves - Chicago   View more episodes

Aired at 06:00 PM on Sunday, Feb 17, 2013 (2/17/2013)      View all transcripts from this day


00:01:11>> Some breaking news.
00:01:13Traveled country singer has been found dead in arkansas.
00:01:18Police responding to a report of gunshots found on the front porch of a home dead of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
00:01:35" every documentary we run by >> every day in america tens of thousands of people go online looking to buy and sell sex.
00:02:12>> Yes.
00:02:12Are you calling for a date?
00:02:15>> But sometimes the voice on the other end of the line is an undercover cop.
00:02:20>> It's river and lawrence.
00:02:21>> Investigators for the cook county human trafficking task force are in route to a location where an undercover officer has arranged a date for sex with a woman doing calls from her motel room.
00:02:25>> Once the officer is inside the room with the girl, he'll make the deal.
00:02:30We'll go to the room.
00:02:33He'll let us in, and then we'll arrest the girl for prostitution.
00:02:35>> Police say this particular motel near the airport is particularly used as a rendezvous for buyers and sellers of sex.
00:02:43>> We just got texts now that he's going to room 307.
00:02:48We'll give him a couple minutes to get up there.
00:02:49>> Inside room 307 the undercover has just made a deal for sex in exchange for $200.
00:02:57>> You have no identification, right?
00:02:58>> You sure.
00:02:59>> The young woman has no identification, but she tells detectives that she's been arrested for prostitution before, and she tells our producer that she doesn't understand what haul the fuss is about.
00:03:18>> I don't think we should get in trouble for this at all.
00:03:20Like if my boyfriend gives me money and buys me stuff, I don't see a reason why a stranger can't do that.
00:03:22So, it would be the same thing to me.
00:03:23That's it.
00:03:25>> Even when you arrest the girls, a lot of times they're so well trained, especially the young ones to talk about it's my boyfriend.
00:03:35Talk about the pimp or there's no force involved.
00:03:43When you start peeling back the layers, you find abuse.
00:03:46You find this person is a victim of trafficking.
00:03:51>> Detectives have finishing up at the motel when they notice a curious couple hanging around room 307 and watching them work.
00:03:56Police suspect the pair may be connected to the girl in custody, so they decide to introduce themselves.
00:04:04Have a seat for a minute.
00:04:05Come here, come here.
00:04:05Gl the woman has no identification, but she tells police she's 21 and lives in the neighboring state of wisconsin.
00:04:08Police learn she is nine months pregnant and has a prior arrest for prostitution.
00:04:15>> How much months pregnant are you?
00:04:23>> I'm due like next week.
00:04:30>> She's due next week.
00:04:31>> The couple denies any wrong doing today and police are unable to connect them to the earlier arrest in room 307.
00:04:33Once the male is identified he's free to go, but police can't release the young woman until she's identified.
00:04:36>> Is that your boyfriend who you were walking with?
00:04:37>> Yeah.
00:04:38A friend of mine.
00:04:39I'm not in a room.
00:04:42>> The woman jenna heck is uncooperative but was arrested for prostitution a month ago.
00:04:47The manager says she's been at the motel for 23 days.
00:04:52>> What room is she staying in?
00:04:52>> 208.
00:04:54>> I don't have a key.
00:04:55>> Who is up in 208.
00:04:59>> It's not my room.
00:05:04>> There's no proof that jenna is selling sex today, but police say there is actually a high dollar demand for sex with pregnant women.
00:05:10>> And that's what they're kind of into.
00:05:11I don't see it.
00:05:12But eh.
00:05:12>> I'm not lying.
00:05:16>> What else did you get arrested for?
00:05:22>> The young woman is eventually identified by the record of her previous arrest for prostitution.
00:05:25>> I'll meet you guys back over there.
00:05:32And you're pregnant, so don't be doing anything you're not supposed to do.
00:05:45>> Police offer her a chance to speak with a women crisis counselor from the justice program, but she declines, and she is free to go.
00:06:00>> Okay.
00:06:01So what time are you looking at?
00:06:02>> Back at the hotel, it's a when business begins to pick up.
00:06:04>> Guys are getting off work now.
00:06:05They're looking for maybe something to do before they go home.
00:06:07You know, you can check us out, and then we can go from there.
00:06:13Follow your lead.
00:06:14>> Female undercovers have an unsuspecting john on the line.
00:06:15>> He's in the parking lot.
00:06:16>> Now all they have to do is reel him in.
00:06:17Turn around.
00:06:17Turn around.
00:06:18Turn around.
00:06:18Put your hands behind your back.
00:06:19Put your hands behind your back.
00:06:19>> Inside the room police find a big bear of a man with alcohol on his breath.
00:06:23Detectives say he was hoping to party with all three women, but now the party is over.
00:06:27>> If you haven't noticed, we're running a prostitution sting right now.
00:06:37>> A resident of indiana, the man tells police he's in town on business.
00:06:39Detectives say they see his kind all the time.
00:06:50>> Businessmen, doctors, lawyers, you know, career guys.
00:06:54>> And we've looked at the demographics.
00:06:56It's across the board.
00:06:56All right.
00:06:57We got a guy coming up, guys.
00:06:57Economics doesn't make a difference.
00:06:59Race doesn't make a difference.
00:06:59>> Turn around.
00:07:00>> Police, you're under arrest.
00:07:01>> Age doesn't make a difference.
00:07:02From 18 all the way to I think it was 74 years old.
00:07:04We arrested one guy last year.
00:07:0674 Years old.
00:07:08He's looking for sex from an undercover girl.
00:07:11The guy got out of bypass surgery two weeks ago and he's out looking for a girl.
00:07:21>> Sex sells, you know.
00:07:21Men think about it all the time.
00:07:22It's the matter in which they're going to attain it.
00:07:23>> They don't seem to care.
00:07:24A lot of them are married.
00:07:26Most have families.
00:07:27Most are businessmen.
00:07:32Think all have jobs.
00:07:36They come and want to have a good time with someone in private and something discreet and no one is going to know about it.
00:07:44>> The salmon is going upstream.
00:07:44>> Police say that most johns don't think too deeply about all the consequences of buying sex until they get caught.
00:07:52>> Police.
00:07:53Let me see your hands.
00:07:53>> They're looking for one thing.
00:07:57Obviously a guy is going to pay for sex, he's looking for that.
00:08:02He's looking for sex.
00:08:11They don't see the ramifications of paying someone and they don't see the outcome of a traffic victim.
00:08:18They don't -- I don't think they want to look at that.
00:08:19>> Want to walk with me?
00:08:20>> Sure.
00:08:20>> If they realize what's going on in this girl's life, her background, the physical and emotional abuse she's getting from the pimp, I think they would have a different understanding of what it is.
00:08:26>> And while police may not be able to make johns feel the pain of women trapped in the underground sex trade, they can make them feel the pain deep in their own wallets.
00:08:38This is a nice wallet.
00:08:39Is this leather?
00:08:39This is nice.
00:08:40>> It became clear in certain areas of town people looking for prostitutes, they better not go there, there's a strong possibility it might be us.
00:08:48If it is, we have a whole menu of things we can and will do to you, starting with really making you poor.
00:08:50>> This is the fine.
00:08:51This is if you decide you don't want to pay the fine, okay.
00:08:53>> So I think collectively we've driven down the demand in certain areas.
00:08:55>> You just go home.
00:08:56>> In addition, a lot of people dragging in to fund all of our programs to try to help the women who have been victimized.
00:08:59>> The average prostitute turns five to six, maybe ten tricks a day.
00:09:19How much trauma is that for her?
00:09:20I have the girls say it feels like someone is using the bathroom inside of me.
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00:12:46>> Put your hands behind your back.
00:12:47>> Clearly the party is over tonight for these men seeking sex for sale.
00:12:49But across metro chicago, day or night, men continue to order girls to go with a simple click of a mouse.
00:12:58From anal sex to oral sex to three on one, investigators say women and underage girls are sold on websites.
00:13:05>> The entire world exists so they can have a place to sell women.
00:13:11I'm fed up and I'm tired and this is going to stop.
00:13:19>> In 2009 cook county sheriff tom dart was part of the legal effort to stop down the erotic services section of craigslist.
00:13:26>> Just calling to see if you have anything available for today.
00:13:30>> Now his troops are taking aim at backpage, which he says makes millions from the misery of others.
00:13:34>> If we have a website that puts on hits for spouses.
00:13:37Well, we're not putting on the hits for the spouses.
00:13:41We just set up the website.
00:13:43We are then telling law enforcement.
00:13:44Yeah, the problem is by the time we get there, the people are all dead already.
00:13:50So we rather you take the website down.
00:13:55I mean, come on.
00:13:57>> The cook county task force wants americans to know that online websites keep traffic women ensnared in a cycle of perpetual violence.
00:14:06>> They went crazy.
00:14:07This dude put me in a choke hold.
00:14:14>> While most view them as young individuals making bad choices, brenda howell sees these women as the walking wounded, in desperate need of the public's empathy and intervention.
00:14:27>> I have girls say it feels like someone is using the bathroom inside of me.
00:14:33The average prostitute turns five to six, maybe ten tricks a day, right?
00:14:43If you calculate five times 365, how many men has she slept with?
00:14:44Over 1,800 men.
00:14:45How much trauma a is that for her?
00:14:47>> I know about prostitution.
00:14:48I was a prostitute for 25 years.
00:14:50You have no idea what you're in for.
00:14:53Brenda's own hard life lessons make her the perfect lifeline for girls and young women in crisis.
00:15:02>> In the beginning of my prostitution, escorts and strip clubs, only the best.
00:15:05And at the end of the road, i was turning tricks on a street corner for $20.
00:15:15>> Like many women who fall into prostitution, brenda's own sexual experience began with rape as a child.
00:15:23>> Being molested since I was 4 or 5 years old, constantly happening in the households that I lived in, from my grandmother to my aunt's house.
00:15:33Every time I thought I was safe I was never safe.
00:15:36>> Raised by an alcoholic grandmother in housing projects on chicago's west side, her first exposure to prostitution was right outside her front door.
00:15:47>> Me being 9 years old, living in a community where prostitutes work in front of our window, and looking out the window of the prostitutes and getting in and out of cars with shiny dresses on and being very beautiful and asking grandmother, what are those women doing?
00:16:02And she says they take their panties off and getting money.
00:16:06And me being related to this that because men have been taking my panties off.
00:16:11>> Brenda says at 14 her grandmother encouraged her to sell herself in order to add money to the family purse.
00:16:19>> 1973, Good friday, i proceeded to march on downtown to the coast and stood on that corner, and that night I made over $400.
00:16:30And those guys knew that I was a minor.
00:16:33They knew that I was young.
00:16:36They paid me more because I was young.
00:16:38>> After 25 years of surviving exploitation and violence, brenda was forced out of the life after a brutal attack by a john almost killed her.
00:16:52>> I get in a car with a customer who began to beat me up to take his money back after we got through, and I tried to get out of the car to get away from him, and he started his car up and was driving off, and as i tried to get away from him, my clothes caught hold to the door, and he drug me for six blocks and tore all the skin off my body, my face.
00:17:16>> Disfigured and near death, brenda was taken to cook county hospital.
00:17:20There she says she was pushed to the back of the line for treatment because she was a prostitute.
00:17:29>> I felt worthless.
00:17:30I felt that even people who were supposed to help me, who had took an oath to help people, didn't want to help a prostitute.
00:17:39I wanted to die.
00:17:40>> Now married with a family of her own, brenda says she is living proof that working girls like chanel can turn their lives around with help and support.
00:17:47>> Chanel, you are a beautiful, special girl.
00:17:54>> I can look in her eyes.
00:17:55I can talk to her.
00:17:56I can understand what she's feeling because I've been there.
00:17:59And the questions that come from me are not like the questions that come from police.
00:18:04>> It takes just a few minutes for brenda to crack chanel's tough girl act.
00:18:27>> I don't remember what I was like before this.
00:18:28I have no idea.
00:18:28I didn't remember my personality or anything like that.
00:18:30>> Wow.
00:18:31>> That's the worst part about it.
00:18:36I won't ever be the same.
00:18:37I'm a different person.
00:18:40You know what I mean?
00:18:44I know how bad it is.
00:18:44Like, I know some girls probably say they are not on drugs.
00:18:48After meeting so many other girls that get down, I'm one of the smarter ones.
00:18:56I'm one of the smarter ones, you know.
00:19:00I know that this is ridiculous.
00:19:01I never was meant to be a ho.
00:19:03>> Today brenda devotes her time to helping women make the same choice she did, to leave the life.
00:19:05>> Give me a hug.
00:19:06>> Her goal, make a human connection and give women hope that there is a way out.
00:19:08>> Give me a real hug.
00:19:11That was a fake hug.
00:19:12>> So next time the women are thrown a lifeline, they just might take it.
00:19:15>> Thank you for talking to me.
00:19:16>> If I take prostitution away from you, I have to offer you everything in place of that.
00:19:21And when I say everything, I'm talking about a place to stay, food, clothing, all of your basic human needs have to be met.
00:19:31They need to feel safe.
00:19:35>> Relax, okay, sweetie.
00:19:43>> Okay.
00:19:44>> Don't be nervous or anything, okay.
00:19:48>> Can I just ask you, are you being trafficked.
00:19:49>> It's all mine.
00:19:49It's all my money.
00:19:50>> You sure?
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00:23:03>> As nightfalls in chicago, the day's stifling heat gives way to thunder and lightning and a cold hard rave is flushing the streets.
00:23:07>> How you doing?
00:23:08>> Okay.
00:23:12>> Put your clothes on, sweetie.
00:23:15>> Today's investigation by the cook county human task force continues to find women all across america.
00:23:25>> What am I going to be under arrest for?
00:23:37>> For prostitution.
00:23:41>> We had a girl from minute society, a girl from wisconsin.
00:23:51Only one girl here from chicago.
00:23:54That says a lot for the girls that are not staying in one location.
00:24:01>> The team is about to packet it in when they get one last visit by a woman hoping to trade sex for cash.
00:24:13>> Don't get nervous or anything?
00:24:14>> 23-Year-old jessica is more than 600 miles away from her home in arkansas.
00:24:16>> Is this all you had on?
00:24:19>> Yes.
00:24:20>> This high school graduate tells police that this is her first run-in with the law.
00:24:23>> Have you ever been arrested before?
00:24:24>> No.
00:24:24>> Never for anything?
00:24:25>> No.
00:24:25>> Really?
00:24:26>> Really.
00:24:26>> How long have you been working?
00:24:27>> Not that long.
00:24:27>> How long have you been in town?
00:24:28>> Three weeks.
00:24:29>> Where are you staying?
00:24:30>> At a friend's house.
00:24:30>> Among her belongings, she finds condoms and receipts for stays in high-end hotels and more than $500 in cash.
00:24:33They suspect she may be trafficked but she insists that she is acting alone.
00:24:42>> Can I just ask you, are you being trafficked or is the money going --?
00:24:45>> It's all mine.
00:24:49>> Are you sure?
00:24:52>> Yes.
00:24:59It's my decision.
00:25:02>> When asked about the plight of other women, jessica says it's simply a matter of freewill.
00:25:08>> It's what they want to do.
00:25:09>> The majority of those women were being controlled.
00:25:10They would never tell you that but I hear things that a lot of times in interviews that other people don't hear.
00:25:16>> Come on.
00:25:18Have a seat.
00:25:25>> While jessica is noncompliant, another young woman opens up to brenda, revealing she is in crisis.
00:25:29>> I don't want to be on tv.
00:25:30If anyone cease my face, I can get killed.
00:25:31>> Okay.
00:25:32Because I don't know what is going on but I can feel you.
00:25:37>> The 22-year-old says she's been working for a pimp from new york who despite his distance controls her every move.
00:25:58>> The guy you're with now, how did you meet him, your pimp?
00:26:00>> Through his, I don't know what you call, second in command, his wife.
00:26:06>> She was recruited by a woman in new york.
00:26:07She met me and I had like $20 to my name and I didn't know how i was going to make rent.
00:26:09>> And she said she knew what she was doing was not right but she could not get out of it because she would not have a pot to piss in if she didn't have prostitution.
00:26:13She had family but her family gave up on her a long time ago.
00:26:21>> I've never been able to ask anybody for help, ever since i was 13 doing whatever.
00:26:30I was not able to keep up the charade with my parent, pretending to be a christian, pretending to be straight and by the time I went to college, everything fell apart.
00:26:51>> The daughter of missionaries, anna dropped out of college and hopped a plane to america hoping to find work with a modeling agency in new york.
00:27:03But what she found instead turned out to be a trafficking operation.
00:27:08>> And they flew you out to cali, got your hair done, put you on a website and they've been prostituting you out ever since?
00:27:12>> Uh-huh.
00:27:12>> Do you get any of the money?
00:27:13>> Only what I hide, when I can.
00:27:14>> The woman was calling her and threatening her, we're watching you.
00:27:15You can't move.
00:27:16We have people that will come and get you.
00:27:17>> She's absolutely clinically insane.
00:27:22I thought she was going to kill me.
00:27:29She sent me 27 text messages saying that she's going to kill me.
00:27:43>> That's the brain that they have to have you brainwashed so you don't go, right?
00:27:46Been there, done that.
00:27:47>> After 25 years in the game, brenda knows all too well how hard it is for girls like anna to walk away from their pimps.
00:27:50>> A lot of people think this is something that they settle for that.
00:27:52Actually, these women are in survival mode.
00:27:53>> I'm just tired of being scared all the time.
00:27:54>> You don't have any peripheral vision.
00:27:55It tells that these people are right here and this is what i see and this is who I am and i can't get away.
00:28:01>> Do you want to be with this pimp?
00:28:05>> I hate him.
00:28:08>> It's not physical bondage.
00:28:14It's mental bondage.
00:28:21If somebody can control your mind, they can control you.
00:28:27This is what traffickers and pimps and predators do.
00:28:29They control you mentally.
00:28:29>> I don't want anyone to find you, okay?
00:28:33You hear me?
00:28:36But I can get you somewhere very safe.
00:28:40You hear me?
00:28:41Where you will be safe, where you'll be protected, where no one will bother you.
00:28:43Listen, this is what I do for a living, okay?
00:28:44>> At least for tonight, anna's traffickers have met their match in brenda powell.
00:28:46>> I cannot sleep if I let you go back there, you understand?
00:28:48>> Her life lessons ringing loud and clear.
00:28:49At last, anna sees a genuine opportunity to get away from her pimp and agrees to take refuge for girls and young women struggling to get away from prostitution.
00:29:05>> Give me a hug.
00:29:06You not going anywhere.
00:29:07Sometimes I believe that things happen for a reason and it's divine intervention and I feel that's what just happened right now.
00:29:12>> Brenda says there's no guarantees that today's intervention will turn anna's life around but at least for tonight anna will be safe and warm securing shelter from the storm of the underground sex trade.
00:29:35>> We're trying to find that piece of them that's left, the best of what is the best of them so we can help bring it out because they are not a lost cause.