North Texas teen sex trafficking taken from the Mavs game could have been prevented

A family of a 15-year-old girl who went missing in a Dallas Mavericks game in April and was later found to be prostituted at a hotel in Oklahoma City said several organizations were neglected to prevent the situation from getting worse. increase.

After the incident, family lawyer Zeke Fortenberry sent a letter to the Dallas Police Department, American Airlines Center, Dallas Mavericks, and Extended Stay America stating that their actions and policies failed for the victims and their families. rice field.

On April 8th, a girl and her father from North Richland Hills participated in a Mavericks match at the American Airlines Center. Just before half time, her daughter went to the bathroom but she didn’t return.

According to Fortenbury’s letter, the father immediately notified American Airlines Center staff and Dallas Police Department of her disappearance.

By the end of the game, the girl had not been found and police told her father to return home, Fortenbury said.

Over the course of several days, the family called the Dallas Police Department to help find their daughter. According to Fortenbury, the Dallas Police Department has never launched an investigation and made no effort to find a teenage girl.

The family turned to the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative, a non-profit organization, but found that girls were being promoted and sold for sex in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City police found her detained at the Extended Stay America Hotel, Arrested and regained the girl On April 18, eight people were arrested for trafficking, distribution of child pornography, and rape.

Fortenbury said there were multiple steps along the way that could have prevented the incident.

He said a man who seduced a teenage girl from the game found her in an area within the center. The fraudulent ticket that the man had was offered by an individual known to Dallas because he did not have a valid ticket. Mavericks and American Airlines Center as sellers of fraudulent tickets.

“Dallas Mavericks and AAC were unable to protect their victims from a man with an illegal ticket in a restricted area,” Fortenberry said.

The letter also alleges that the Dallas Police Department refused to investigate the case, despite the family’s immediate disappearance and continuous phone calls to the department.

The Dallas Police Department did not immediately respond to the request for comment on Wednesday. Representatives of the Mavericks, American Airlines Center and hotels were not immediately asked for comment.

In the WFAA-TV report, Dallas Police Department said the arena was searched, And shared this about the protocol in these situations. “The Texas Family Law (51.03 b. 3) provides for investigating a missing boy as a runaway unless there are seemingly involuntary situations such as kidnapping or kidnapping. These proceedings per code , Is to be raised in the place where the boy lives. “

The Dallas Police Department told the WFAA that it had helped the North Richland Hills Police Department, which registered the victims in a national missing person database, and produced a bulletin to be issued to the station on April 11.

Fortenbury said the case should not have been treated as a runaway.

“Not here,” he said. “She went missing at a sporting event.”

The surveillance video showed the girl leaving the center with the man.

According to a lawyer’s letter, registered sex offenders used fake names and fake IDs to rent multiple hotel rooms at the Extended Stay Hotel in Oklahoma City. The teen was detained at a hotel for several nights and was sexually assaulted there.

Fortenbury said the hotel has signs of trafficking textbooks and employees need to be trained and respond to those warning signs.

“This is a series of failures that ultimately led to this,” Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry stated that the letter sent to these entities is to allow policy or action changes within these organizations to initiate conversations and prevent similar incidents.

He said his company has given each organization about 30 days to respond to letters before taking any kind of legal action.