A second man has been arrested in Seattle’s Jungle homeless encampment, aka the Triangle, for allegedly raping and sex trafficking two young girls.
The girls were 13 and 16 years old.
“There were two girls, at least, that we know of,” said Val Richey,
Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County. “One from New
Jersey. One from Idaho, who ended up coming to Seattle, almost by
accident, on a bus. They got off and stumbled into the encampment.
That’s when it all began. Unfortunately, they then suffered a series of
awful, horrible experiences.”
Richey told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don
that the men have been charged with rape, so far. There is information
that a sex trafficking operation was occurring in the camp. An
investigation into that allegation is underway.
But it goes beyond Seattle. Prosecutors like Richey believe hundreds
of local children are being trafficked online. He has prosecuted cases
with victims between the ages of 11 and 14. Richey said businesses and
landlords, especially, have a role in reporting suspicious behavior.
10 signs a child may be at risk of sex trafficking
Chronic truant/runaway/homeless youth
Hotel room keys
Multiple cell phones
Signs of branding (tattoos, jewelry)
Having expensive items with no known source of income (especially hair, manicures, cell phone, clothes)
Lying about age / false identification/inconsistencies in information being reported
Dramatic personality change; evasive behavior especially around a “new
boyfriend.” talk about being “taken care of,” disengagement from
school, sports, community
Lack of knowledge of a given community or whereabouts
Provocative clothing, sex toys, multiple condoms, lube or other sexual devices
What Are the Guiding Principles for Engaging with a Child Who May Be Exploited?
Maintain a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude at all times.
Be consistent: follow through on everything and do not make promises that cannot be kept.
Trust and relationship-building: this is a slow process and relationship testing is to be expected.
Cultural Competency: be sensitive to the unique cultural needs and
experiences of each person. Be aware of your own beliefs, biases, and
Safety: focus on safe housing, harm reduction and creating safety strategies for youth.
Self-determination and empowerment: youth should have information
relevant to their situation and be encouraged to make informed decisions
What Questions Do I Ask?
What kind of support do you need?
What happened to you?
Sometimes people trade sex for money or because they have to survive, has that happened to you?
I’m concerned about your safety, are there places that are dangerous
for you to go? Are there people that are dangerous for you to be around
I’m concerned you are in the life. I will not judge you or anything
you tell me. I’m here to listen if you ever want to talk or want support
How Do I Identify At-Risk Youth?
Ask specific questions to screen for risk factors or CSE involvement
Increase attempts to find youth who chronically run away or are truant
Learn about specific gang activity from local law enforcement (or from youth if it is safe for them to discuss)
Ask about STI/STDs, pregnancy, and unexplained injuries
Observe communication patterns; who talks to whom, who doesn’t talk, who is in control
More information at the Polaris Project.
Also if people want to call in a tip, they can do it at the national human trafficking hotline.
If they want to make a referral to a local service provider, Organization for Prostitution Survivors is a great organization.
If they are a business that want to get some training for their employees, they can talk to the Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking.
Sex trafficking in the United States
While child sex trafficking is a serious issue, it is one corner of
the problem. Richey notes that there is big business in getting
vulnerable women from other countries into the United States.
“There’s millions (of dollars) a week (from sex trafficking),” Richey
said. “We know this because we have tracked the money. The people who
profit are the ones who are centralized – the bookers, the brokers who
arrange to get them over here, the immigration attorneys who help with
fake visas. We had a woman who spoke no English at all, from an Asian
country, and on her visa it said she was going to a concrete convention
in Las Vegas. You got to be kidding me. There’s just no screening of any
kind to identify what’s going on here. So we have thousands of women
all over the country in this situation.”
Usually, Richey said, the women are told a fake story to get them to
travel to the United States. For example, they can make a lot of money
working as a masseuse in America. Once in the country, they are farmed
out to a sex trafficking operation. Girls are placed in a residence such
as an apartment or a house, and are cut off from the outside world. An
ad is placed on a website for their services. From there, they are sold
to different men each day. The women often don’t speak English.
Communication can be done through a translation app on a smartphone.
They are told that they will go to jail or worse if they call the
Many of the women in this case are between the ages of 18-30, Richey said.
“The entire market is held up by guys buying sex,” Richey said. “The
demographic is 40-60 year-old-white men – middle to upper class. Those
guys have the money to pay $300 an hour for this stuff. The women keep
very little of it. Most of it goes to the house, the brothel operator,
“We’ve arrested tech workers, doctors, lawyers, everybody,” he said.
“What we have found is a lot of the guys have problems in their life.
It’s not just their marriage, it’s depression, or maybe some
psychological issue and they’re trying to resolve those issues through