A North Texas teenager disappeared after going to the bathroom at a Dallas Mavericks game. A week later, her parents found her on nude advertisements for sex trafficking online in Oklahoma City.
The harrowing incident is the basis for a lawsuit by the family against numerous organizations they said could have stopped the crime but didn’t.
The 15-year-old went to the game with her father on April 8 at the American Airlines Center. She went missing after leaving to go the bathroom right before halftime, and surveillance video captured her leaving with a man.
The parents of the teenager said they were able to discover her whereabouts after seeing her photograph in nude online advertisements selling sex.
A week and a half later on April 18, police found the girl in a room at an Extended Stay America hotel more than 200 miles away from the arena.
“She was gone missing a total of 11 days,” said attorney Zeke Fortenberry, who is representing the family.
Fortenberry’s office released a statement identifying the Dallas Mavericks, the Dallas Police Department, and the American Airlines Center as groups that could have intervened to protect the girl but didn’t.
He says that the father tried to file a missing person’s report with the police but they told him to contact the North Richland Hills Police, where he lives. He says he was told to go home. When he called the North Richland Hills Police, the father says they were unable to help because the incident occurred in Dallas.
“The family was frustrated,” Fortenberry explained. “After days of not getting any information from the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Police not taking any action, the family sought out the help of this agency in Houston.”
He says the family was able to find their daughter through the help of the human trafficking agency Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative in Houston through the use of face-recognition technology.
“That agency was able to help them locate the photograph of their daughter online within the same day,” Fortenberry added.
The Oklahoma City Police were able to rescue the girl and arrest eight people involved in the case.
Fortenberry said the Dallas police didn’t even ask the father for a photograph of their daughter.
In response, the Dallas police said that they had searched the arena and sent the law enforcement code that explained their actions that night.
“Texas Family Code(51.03 b. 3) dictates that missing juveniles are investigated as runaways unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction. Those cases per code are to be filed where the juvenile resides.”
The North Richland Hills Police said that they had entered the information of the missing girl into the national missing person database within a few hours of receiving the report.
Fortenberry says they didn’t do enough to save the girl and lessen the assault she received. “Any time she could have been rescued from that sooner would have been better,” he added.
He also said that someone at the hotel ignored the signs of abuse when she was taken there.
“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 explained.
He also claims that the man was able to attend the game with a fake ticket sold to him by a person known for selling fake tickets.
The eight suspects were arrested on charges including human trafficking, distribution of child pornography, and rape.
Here’s a local news report about the lawsuit:
Missing North Texas teen found being sold for sex in Oklahoma City