Vice Squad Says Sex Trafficking Crimes On The Rise In Central Ohio
A Columbus man is in jail, accused of forcing a northeast Ohio girl to work as a prostitute in a Whitehall motel.
Antonio Sibley is charged with sex trafficking a minor and coercing a minor into posing for child pornography.
Columbus Police rescued the 17-year-old girl at the Casa Villa Motel on East Main Street, where investigators said the man had set her up as a prostitute.
The girl told investigators Sibley referred to her as "Benzi."
"He tells them exactly, this is what you say if anybody from law enforcement ever talks to you - this is who you are, this is your identity, this is our relationship," said a anti-human trafficking victim advocate. "And they feed them a story to feed back to law enforcement."
Columbus Police learned about the girl from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A photo of the missing girl, matched a picture on a website, which advertises sexual services. The girl had been missing from her Akron-area home since April.
She told investigators she travelled here to Columbus with her pimp and had been working the streets as a prostitute since then. She is the seventh child that investigators have rescued from sex trafficking in Central Ohio in the past 11 months. It's a number on the rise.
"That's a lot for this area, and a lot knowing how long these investigations run," said an investigator with the Columbus Police Vice Squad. "And when we're over double that in the past year, and we're taking children out of this environment... It's way too much."
Due to their work in these undercover rescues, 10TV is not identifying members of the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, now in its third year.
MORE INFO: Central Ohio Rescue And Restore
The victim told investigators she had been living at the Whitehall motel with Sibley before she was rescued. She is still recovering.
"She seemed a totally different person. She seemed stable," said the police source. "And I think a lot of that is, she knows where her next meal is coming from, she knows she's safe and she doesn't have to worry about the next person that she encounters robbing her or beating her."
Last year, the Columbus Police Vice Squad received 124 tips on possible human trafficking. Through July of this year, they've received 91.