Trafficking has far-reaching effects on many people in our community. To read more, click any of the characters’ names below.
What happened to Alexandra?
Alexandra graduates with an MA from the University of Cincinnati on the Dean’s List for exemplary grades. After spending three months submitting job applications, she is still unemployed. She considers moving to a city with a better job market, but doesn’t have the money to make the move. Alexandra’s only source of income is a part-time job as a waitress at a diner. A friend tells her that she could make far more money working as a stripper than she does waiting tables. Alexandra begins working at My Room in Reading. In her first three nights of work, she makes $600.
Although Alexandra is an extremely bright and educated woman, she finds that she makes a better wage as a sex worker than any of her friends do in their middle class jobs. She continues to strip for the next four years, during which time she becomes an alcoholic to manage the emotional stress of sex work.
What happened to Alexis?
By the age of 10, Alexis had learned to barter with sex with her stepfather. In her 20s, she found herself hooked on drugs and selling her body. She was arrested more than 80 times. At age 30, she was hospitalized after someone shot her on the job.
Alexis recovered from her injury, but is now too frail to take in customers. Her pimp has no need for her and her addiction to pain killers after hospitalization is worse than ever. She roams the streets jobless and homeless.
What happened to Alice?
Alice drives past a building every day on her way to work that seems to be a brothel. The “business” there is never formally open, however throughout the day she sees men slinking in and out of the back door. The front door has a hand written sign with a cell phone number on it. Alice calls the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline and reports her observations. She is told that, although the hotline will pass the information on, the police will likely never investigate the legitimacy of this “business” because it is not a priority for law enforcement.
What happened to Andrea?
Andrea and her daughter Nicole have always had a rocky relationship. At age 16, her daughter ran away from home. Almost 2 years later, a friend of Nicole’s called Andrea telling her that she thinks she has seen Nicole selling her body on the street.
Nicole’s friend’s suspicions where correct. Nicole was selling her body to support herself for 2 years. Andrea notifies the police about the danger her daughter is in. Andrea’s daughter is arrested, and is currently in rehab.
What happened to Andrew?
Andrew started getting into trouble with dealing drugs when he was in his 20s. Many of his customers were regulars, including a girl named Alli. After a couple of months, Alli could no longer afford to buy drugs from Andrew, and started trading him sex for drugs. Andrew felt empowered by this, and then started finding other women that would sell themselves to him. He started using these girls for his pleasure and started selling them out to others, for even more money.
Andrew has been trafficking women for more than 20 years. He makes $600,000 a year off the more than 20 girls working for him. He knows that there’s a very small chance he will ever be caught. He continues to build his business.
What happened to Angie?
Angie was molested by her stepdad until she ran away at the age of 13. After years of abusive boyfriends she found herself on the street where she met someone who offered to pay for a hotel room and some food in exchange for sex. Sex was the only thing Angie knew how to do. This began an endless cycle of turning tricks to buy drugs and food.
The little girl in an abusive home who you would have done anything to help, is now a 27 year old drug-addicted prostitute with missing teeth. Rather than wanting to help her, people blame her and are afraid of her. People say things like, “you choose to do this” and “you could have gotten help.”
What happened to Anne?
Anne was 16 years old when she began using crack. By 24, Anne had three misdemeanor charges on her record and was living with a friend. Anne got pregnant and had her first child at 27. She is now 43 years old with five children. To support her cocaine addiction she invites men into her bedroom.
On more than one occasion, Anne has caught the men creeping into her children’s rooms. She allows them to fuck them for a bigger fee. Anne is arrested and serves 15 years. The children enter into foster care.
What happened to Annisa?
A kind man in Annisa’s Indonesian village begins talking about all the opportunities America offers, and says he has a cousin there who would help her find a job if Annisa wanted to go. Without prospects or a family of her own, Annisa has few ties to her home anymore, so she decides to take him up on his offer and packs for her big move.
A year later, Annisa is one of seven girls in a stable in Cincinnati. She has been imprisoned, beaten, and threatened with violence and now has almost no control over her own life. Her “job” is to serve as prostitute to men up to 14 times a day.
What happened to Amy?
Amy is a local prosecutor who speaks regularly at the John School program. She has seen over 7,000 johns in the program since 1995 when it was launched.
The re-arrest rate has fallen sharply and remains more than 30% lower than it was 10 years ago. Amy offers first time offenders a special deal; if they plead guilty, pay a $250 fee and complete the course without re-offending, their charge can be dismissed after a year. If she sees them again, she guarantees jail time.
What happened to Ashleigh?
Ashleigh was a victim of sex trafficking for years before having her daughter, who inevitably followed in her footsteps. Ashleigh became a “bottom bitch” as a way to look after her daughter and other girls who are stuck in the cycle of trafficking, since she’s already lived through it herself.
Ashleigh notices one night that her daughter did not get money from a John after their encounter. She must report this to their pimp and Ashleigh’s daughter is beaten in front of her for her carelessness.
What happened to Beth?
Beth is excited to go to a party on Friday with a young man who wants to be her boyfriend. However, on the car ride to the “party” she was beaten and then threatened at gun point to have sex with a man at a rest stop for gas money. The man who beat her took her to another state and became her pimp. Beth was subjected to regular, brutal beatings, which resulted in broken bones. Her pimp’s regular practice of washing her vagina out with disinfectant after johns did not use condoms, will cause her permanent infertility.
At age 16, Beth was arrested by the police and was put into an adult jail. She had been groomed by her pimp to say she was 18, so despite her real age and status as a child-trafficking victim, she was prosecuted as an adult who had “chosen” a career as a prostitute.
What happened to Bill?
Bill is a middle class man who has bought sex regularly for the last two years. Although he has continued to seek out women in this way, he carries a great amount of guilt and it has taken an emotional toll. Often, he feels disappointed by the act and is still lonely, but continues to buy.
What happened to Brian?
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy minimizes concern by telling reporters that the Super Bowl’s status as a human-trafficking nexus is an urban legend. The Super Bowl is commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States. However, it’s difficult to gather statistics each year.
During the Super Bowl, Brian McCarthy is confronted with with questions of what the NFL is doing to curb trafficking. Meanwhile, athletes take the field and the fans cheer, they are oblivious to the tragedy unfolding around them in dark hotel rooms nearby.
What happened to Candy?
Candy was born Mitchell Smith III. After struggling with his identity for many years he became Candy, short for Candace. Candy got involved with her boss at Desires Night Club. Shortly after that, he paid for her sex change operation. He allows her to make extra money to pay him back by “entertaining” special guests after hours.
One night, Candy was “entertaining” Steve, a US senator. After finding out Candy had undergone a sex change operation he beat Candy unconscious. Candy did not file a police report and is still employed at Desires Night Club.
What happened to Chauncey?
Chauncey met a 14-year-old runaway girl, referred to as Jane Doe, outside of a Cincinnati strip club where she worked as a dancer. He forced the girl to walk streets and also posted suggestive ads of her on prostitution websites. Chaunceytakes all of her money, and if she doesn’t meet her quota, she won’t be allowed to eat.
Last March, Cincinnati police pulled over Chauncey’s car for a broken headlight and found him and three other women, including Jane Doe inside. The officers became suspicious because Jane Doe looked extremely young and they were in an area known for its high-prostitution rates. He was arrested and Doe was identified as a missing person taken into protective custody. Chauncey was found guilty in May of one count of human trafficking and one count of pimping a minor younger than 16. He was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison.
What happened to Chris?
The economy is hitting Cincinnati families pretty hard. Chris’ business still has plenty of customers, but it would be a lot easier to feed his family if he could raise prices. However, the average cost of a street encounter is $60, and his girls aren’t anything to write home about. So instead he works them harder and longer hours to bring in the extra cash.
One of Chris’s girls ends up getting pregnant and he knows he will lose even more money when she is in the hospital giving birth. Chris is angry about his lost income and takes out his anger on the pregnant girl. He beats her in front of the others until she miscarries. He tells them that if they even think of getting pregnant, this will be them next time.
What happened to Cierra?
Cierra is a prostitute who recruited women for trafficker Chauncey Garcia. She would meet girls and introduce them to Garcia, who would then force them into prostitution.
Last March, Cierra was in the car with Garcia and two other young girls when they were pulled over by the police for a broken headlight. Both Garcia and Cierra were arrested. Cierra was found guilty of human trafficking of a minor and pandering of a minor under 16. She was sentenced to five years in state prison.
What happened to Cindy?
Cindy was kicked out of home after an addiction to heroine turned her life upside down. To avoid living in the streets, Cindy stayed with a pimp. He promised her drugs in exchange for control of her life and her body.
What happened to Clyde?
This assistant basketball coach approached a prostitute asking for a blow job. According to her, “He said he knew how much I was worth, and offered me $20.”
The prostitute was actually an undercover cop with the Cincinnati Police Department. When she revealed her true identity to Clyde he tried to bribe her with tickets to a University basketball game and team paraphernalia stashed in the back of his four-by-four. It turned out he had a history of similar arrests out of state.
What happened to Cole?
Cole is a runaway who joined the ranks of male prostitutes at only 15 when an older man offered him a safe home for minor favors. Cole reached out to friends many times, but was met with their homophobia and the notion that “guys can’t be trafficked” because they are stronger than women.
What happened to Damien?
Damien has been selling drugs since he was 17. Many of his loyal customers were trafficked women. Within a few years, he begins to traffick women himself to maintain control of his customers.
What happened to Darius?
Darius had taken part in a trafficking operation for over a year with a completely clean record. Three weeks ago, Darius kidnapped a 21-year-old woman and held her at a hotel where he sold her body several times a day. A week later, the woman escaped and contacted the police.
What happened to Darla?
Darla’s father is a pimp, so she grew up in the world of trafficking. She had many mothers living around her as a young girl. She saw her father beat them and give them drugs, but that was just the way of life. Her father got her a first “date” when she was 13. Her youth was beaten, stripped, and stolen from her.
What happened to Deborah?
Deborah has been working undercover for 10 years with the Cincinnati Police Department, busting dope dealers, gang members, prostitutes, and pimps. She sometimes nabs 50 johns a night, and never wears provocative apparel to conduct these operations. “My clothes would then have been submitted as evidence, and the issue of entrapment would have been raised.”
One of her career highs was the bringing down of the Alpha Club, a brothel that had operated undisturbed in Cincinnati for 25 years. The case was successfully prosecuted in March 2004, and a framed check for $346,104, the amount Deborah secured for her department in the asset forfeiture, was hung in police headquarters.
What happened to Deshawn?
Deshawn grew up in an abusive family where his father beat his mother and often slept with prostitutes. Attempting to escape his family situation, he started using drugs when he was 14. After getting into debt, drug dealers were after him for money and they said he could clear his debt if his girlfriend became a prostitute. Deshawn pleaded with his girlfriend, and eventually threatened her to become a prostitute.
What happened to Don?
Don works in advertising and often travels for business. To deal with the stress and loneliness of his work-life balance Don occasionally pays for sex with women. Don says it is much easier to pay for sex because he doesn’t have to think about what the woman wants…he can take out his aggression and stress on her. This power imbalance lends to the false belief that payment equals consent.
Don’s fiance’ suspects that he may be cheating on her on business trips. When she confronts him, he admits to her his transgressions and pleads with her to stay with him because he “can’t help it.” The fiance’ leaves and solidifies Don’s belief that he cannot have a normal committed relationship with women.
What happened to Frank?
Frank passes through downtown to get to work, everyday. After contracting HIV from an extramarital affair, he starts soliciting sex from trafficked women downtown because he is afraid of infecting his wife, who suspects him of cheating, but is unaware that he is HIV positive.
Frank has now infected over 20 women with the HIV virus. His marriage falls apart and he is faced with the reality that he is alone and bears the responsibility of infecting so many women with a deadly disease.
What happened to Gloria?
#26 as she calls herself, was ripped out of her home when she was 7 and brought to Cincinnati. Her debt bondage for transportation to the States was held over her head for almost 30 years by her trafficker. She could never make quite enough money to pay him off and he threatened her with deportation.
What happened to James?
James regularly bought women to get him off. He drove the track downtown on McMicken St. and picked up a girl every week or so. He didn’t feel guilt over his lifestyle; after all, he was providing these women with the money they needed for food and shelter.
After being arrested for soliciting the services of a prostitute, James was sentenced to attend a John School program. Hearing stories first-hand of what life is like for a woman being trafficked by men like him, the stories of abuse, violence, and rape, James began to see the world he participated in and stopped paying for sex.
What happened to Jason?
Jason was arrested for soliciting a prostitute and sent to John School, a one-day program led by former prostitutes, health experts, psychologists and law enforcement officers who discuss the risks of hiring a prostitute. Through this program, Jason learns that cities are shifting their focus from locking up suppliers to educating buyers.
It helped Jason see that this is not a victimless crime, and that he was contributing to the exploitation of women. Prostitution has been a one-sided battle focused on the women who offer sex. He was only cited for a misdemeanor and fined, but the prostitute he was with was jailed for four months.
What happened to Jay?
Jay is pre-op trans* who identifies as female. After being kicked out of her house, she turns to trafficking to hide from the homophobia and transphobia around her. Jay hopes to save up enough money to fully physically transition into being female one day.
What happened to Joshua?
Joshua has recently become a part of his brother Isaiah’s trafficking business. He left his parents home when he was 18 and needed a way to make money. His brother has let him assist him in pimping girls to other men. Joshua says that trafficking women is much better than drugs or guns, because “you can sell a human over and over again.”
Joshua does not enjoy his job. But he needs the money to support himself. The business makes over $500,000 a year with little cost for him. Joshua makes good money, so he continues to sell these women.
What happened to Justice Hecht?
This Cincinnati Supreme Court Justice receives a case for review in which a 13-year-old girl flagged down the car of an undercover officer and offered to engage in oral sex for twenty dollars. She was arrested for prostitution.
Justice Hecht delivers the court’s opinion, “Because a 13 year old child cannot consent to sex . . . [this child] cannot be prosecuted as a prostitute.” She goes on to state that children cannot be considered guilty of an act that involves their own sexual exploitation, and that treating child prostitutes as victims rather than criminals will undermine the ability of pimps to prey on the child’s fear of police, removing a powerful tool pimps use to assert control. The child involved in this case is now in the care of protective services.
What happened to Keena?
Several weekends a year, Keena talks about her life as a prostitute to men taking part in John School programs in Cincinnati. She tells the men she never liked the sex. She was actually disgusted by them and traumatized by what they did to her. “I hated you when I was out there,” she tells the men. She shares about the sexual abuse she endured as a child, starting at age 3, how she was paid for sex as a teenager, became addicted to drugs, and was often subjected to violence and rape while working on the streets.
What happened to Kenneth?
Kenneth is assigned to defend a pimp accused of violating the sex offender registration act. He argues in court that sex trafficking is not deemed a sex crime under current law. His client is sentenced to 6-12 years in state prison for leading a prostitution ring that forced girls as young as 15 years old into the sex trade. However, because the client is already a Level 2 sex offender, a second sex offense would have raised him to level 3.
A reporter discovers the discrepancy and confirms that sex trafficking is a sex crime under law. The Attorney General makes a statement encouraging the judge to up the charges, noting that the prison sentence will not change, even if the judge makes it a sex crime.
What happened to Lisa?
Lt. Harold Barker was the arresting officer for a traffick operation in 2005. Out of the 27 girls taken in only 7 would testify against their former “bosses.” Out Of that 7, only 2 proved to be mentally sound for court because of PTSD symptoms. Lisa Turner, one of the trafficked persons, was the only one to testify. She was the oldest worker and had been in the ring the longest; the defense berated her until she too broke down on the stand.
What happened to Lucy?
Ever since Lucy was a young teenager, her goal in life has been be to help women in need. She starts volunteering at a shelter for women who were previously trafficked.
Lucy has been helping trafficked women for 5 years now. She has helped open three shelters, in addition to the one she works at. The shelters volunteers often go out on the streets to help girls still involved in sex trafficking, offering them things like condoms and clean needles. Lucy continues to help these girls and raise awareness.
What happened to Madeline?
Madeline takes walks down the same street every day. One night while walking she sees a very beaten up looking women being assaulted in an alley. She runs home and calls the police immediately to let them know she thinks she’s been a witness to sex trafficking.
The police thank Madeline for the information and tell her that an officer will be patrolling the area. Madeline pushes for them to further investigate what happened, but they inform her that it is extremely difficult to make an arrest in a situation like this without more information.
What happened to Marie?
Marie was trafficked starting at age 16. Her pimp threatened to kill her family if she didn’t cooperate to go out and make him money. This continued for 3 years until she was picked up by law enforcement.
What happened to Marsha?
Marsha had been in a relationship with Marcus for 16 years. During that time they have had four children. Marcus was verbally, physically, and sexually abusive; and when he wanted extra money, he called friends and forced Marsha into commercial sex. Whenever she tried to leave Marcus, he threatened to post explicit photos of her in their childrens’ schools. He threatened to harm their children and convinced her she had no option but to stay with him.
One evening Marcus, Marsha, and their 16 year-old daughter, who was also forced into prostitution by her father, were pulled over by a patrol officer for a traffic violation. When he asked Marcus for identification, he saw Marcus had Marsha and the 16 year-old girl’s IDs as well. Suspicious, he asked to speak to the women privately. In conversation he realized both women were being forced into prostitution. He referred both women to Ohio Polaris Project where they were assisted with temporary housing, food, and clothing. Marsha was able to relocate out of state with her children.
What happened to Mike?
Mike is planning to go with some buddies to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, not because they are mineral enthusiasts, but because a weekend away at this event provides them anonymity in a large crowd while they buy sex.
While in Tucson, Mike and his friends see a life-size doll box with a woman inside, set up by Sold No More, a Christian group combating local sex trafficking. They make a joke about it, before checking into their hotel and getting on with their weekend getaway.
What happened to Millie?
Millie’s town is growing faster than any other place in the country because of a new oil well, but DUI arrests are up fifteenfold and drug use is on the rise. All the extra men working in town have “needs.”
What happened to Nina?
Nina and Alison work the streets together. Their Pimp Nicholi offers them as a two-for-one deal for returning clients. The girls get invited to a swanky event and are told to dress formal. Nicholi takes them shopping and to the salon. Nina and Alison are picked up and taken to a home that sits on five acres of land. They are introduced to Mykel the owner of the house. Mykel takes the girls into a room that looks like a library. Another man waits in the room and points to Nina and says, “That one.”
What happened to Olivia?
Olivia started doing street outreach in order to get extra credit in a women’s studies class. She only had to go once, but after seeing the faces behind the news stories on human trafficking, she became invested in the women and wanted to do more to help.
Olivia met a girl who hopes to major in Women’s Studies at UC one day, if she can get out of soliciting. The girl asked Olivia if she could get into school by calling the number on the outreach card she received from Olivia. Even though Olivia wants to say yes and give her hope for the future, Olivia doesn’t want to make promises she is not certain she can keep. Instead, Olivia says, “just call the number, we’ll see.”
What happened to Pam?
Pam has cycled in and out of jail many times because of her addiction to alcohol and heroin. Her testimony is often discredited because of her addictions, teaching Pam that no one will ever believe her side of the story, so why bother to tell it.
It was only after a judge admitted her to a six month rehabilitation center that Pam was able to begin work on the cycles of abuse and addiction that kept her tied to prostitution. Pam now works as a manager at TJ Maxx and few people know her story of the past.
What happened to Rachel?
When Rachel was 15, her best friend Ruby went missing. She had been jogging when she was kidnapped, and was forced into sex trafficking. Rachel and many others had been searching for Ruby for two years when they finally were informed by the police that Ruby died from an overdose of drugs.
Rachel still has trouble dealing with the fact that she lost her best friend. She has decided that she wants others to know about the horrors of sex trafficking. Rachel set up a website that tells the story of her best friend, and other girls who have been in similar situations.
What happened to Samantha?
Samantha is dating the “bad boy” of her high school. One night Samantha’s boyfriend convinced her into going to a party with him and his friends. At the party Samantha did things she’d never tried before, like cocaine.
What happened to Sandy?
Sandy is a transgender woman from Chile, brought to Cincinnati in April 2005. She was whisked away by a wealthy man who wanted to marry her, but within 3 months she was arrested for soliciting an undercover cop. The officer verbally and physically harassed her then dropped her off on her “husband’s” doorstep although she pleaded otherwise.
What happened to Shaun?
Shaun’s older sister left home at when she was 18. She doesn’t talk to her parents but contacts Shaun often. Shaun knows she is living in a house with more than ten male roommates and is “working” for shelter and drugs.
Shaun tells his parents he is suspicions that his sister is selling her body for drugs. Their parents call the cops and Shaun’s sister is arrested for drug paraphernalia and soliciting. She and Shaun never speak again.
What happened to Shelley?
An older teenage boy becomes Shelley’s boyfriend. Soon after their relationship becomes sexual, the boyfriend invites his friend to have sex with Shelley as well. When she refuses, he punches her, rapes her, and his friend does the same. For the next three years, the boy acts as Shelley’s trafficker. Other teenage boys will pay him to have sex with her, or will pay to watch someone have sex with her. None of this sex is consensual. Shelley is not paid for any of it.
What happened to Sophia?
Sophia became addicted to heroine when she was 19. She found a man to star funding her needs, and she would pay him with sex in return. One night Sophia’s pimp demands for her to pleasure him and she says no. Her pimp beats her and then rapes her.
Sophia files a police report against the pimp. He is arrested and put in jail. Sophia now volunteers to help trafficked girls. She goes to schools to tell her story and to encourage girls to speak out against aggressors.
What happened to Stella?
Stella runs away from a household where her stepfather abuses her and her mother regularly loses her temper. Hitchhiking to Cincinnati, she gets a ride from a truck driver who has a sign posted on his dashboard: GAS, GRASS, OR ASS: Nobody rides for free. She has no money. This is her first experience trading sex for something that she needs.
What happened to Stephanie?
Stephanie moves to Cincinnati, hoping to become a model. She sees an ad looking for models in the Cincy weekly that says it will pay $500 for a day’s work. She answers the ad and goes to the address provided for her. It is a huge home in the Indian Hills. There, a man tells her to take off her clothes. He inspects her and then calls another woman into the room. He tells the woman to shave off all of Stephanie’s pubic hair.
That day, the man takes nude photographs of Stephanie. She is never told who this man is or what he will use the photos for. Years later, Stephanie is haunted by the fear that the photos are on the Internet and will be discovered by someone she knows.
What happened to Taquarius?
Taquarius recruits young women in suburban shopping malls across the United States by posing as a modeling executive and promising them a modeling contract. He convinced young women to travel to Los Angeles, wined and dined them, and then told them that if they want to be models, they must first work for him as prostitutes.
Taquarius was indicted by a federal grand jury on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges and has pled not-guilty to all charges. Following a detention hearing, US Magistrate Court Judge Janice M. Stewart detained him, pending his trial. Trial is set for July 3, 2014, before U.S. District Court Judge Garr M. King.
Thank you for coming to see Traffick at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. We welcome you to continue the discussion on sex slavery in our community by sharing your experience in the comments.