Local Clergy Give Full Support
Two teens, ages 15 and 17, were rescued from forced prostitution. The sister of one of the teens called the Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Hotline established by DA Charles Hynes. An investigation led to the indictment of Artic “Scooby Da Don” Rogers and Treymaine “Trey” Songster, who held the girls against their will, forcing them to have sex with various men, advertised them on the Internet and branded them with tattoos.
Rogers began exploiting the 17-year-old victim in July 2008 and told her that if she did not make at least $1,000 a night as a prostitute, he would beat her, according to the indictment.
On at least one occasion, he tortured and killed a mouse and explained that if the 17-year-old tried to leave, he would do the same to her. He is also charged with forcing her to tattoo his nickname “Scooby” on her body. He met the 15-year-old about a year later, and used similar tactics to intimidate her, according to the indictment. The indictment charges that Rogers locked the girls in an apartment where he made them “work”, and that Songster stayed to guard and intimidate them when Rogers left.
Rogers is also charged with videotaping the victims having sex and posting the videos on the Internet, where he would use Paypal to charge people to view them. He also took them outside Brooklyn to New Jersey and North Carolina, where he continued to exploit them sexually, according to the indictment.
The men are charged with sex trafficking, kidnapping, rape and promoting a sexual performance by a child, and torturing and injuring of animals. They face up to 50 years in prison.
“I created the Sex Trafficking Unit to stop animals like these defendants from exploiting young girls, and I am pleased to see it working,” said District Attorney Hynes.
DA Hynes created the Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Unit (Bk-STU) last June when his office saw an increase in commercial sex exploitation cases. At that time, a Brooklyn grand jury indicted eight people, some with ties to the local Bloods gang, on sex-trafficking charges. One indictment claimed reputed gang member Abking Wilcox forced women and girls as young as 15 into prostitution in Bushwick and Brownsville from 2007 to 2009. Wilcox, 30, was charged with recruiting victims, whom he called his “Team”, from local high schools and middle schools.
“Sex trafficking, forced sexual exploitation, is a heinous crime fueled by the greed and violence of pimps, and whenever my office encounters sex trafficking, we will do everything possible to ensure lengthy prison sentences,” Hynes said.
Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Church, has no use for pimps who choose to exploit women. “There is no redemption to manipulating women, or any person, for a man’s benefit,” Rev. Miller said. Miller believes mental illness may play a role in pimping. “If a man is consistently approaching underage women,” said Rev. Miller, “something is wrong with him.”
Acknowledging the role prosecutors play in putting pimps in jail,Rev. Miller said, “Thankfully, we have the DA’s Office. Some people cannot handle their God-given freedom.”
Rev. Miller believes the pimping lifestyle must be “exposed. “We know it exists. People are not talking about reasons why the girl takes the bait.” He asked, “What is the responsibility of a man? Why do older men do that?” His view is the girls and the older men are influenced by what they hear on the radio and see on television and in magazines. In addition, Rev. Miller has heard from adult men that “women have expectations that little girls don’t.”
According to Rev. Miller, at issue is a “lack of relationships between fathers and daughters. The lack of male role models – father, uncle, grandfather – takes a toll on a young woman.” He proposes one solution: bringing fathers and daughters together. “The community should provide a place and space for fathers and daughters in every neighborhood.”
Rev. Miller is willing “to have a dialogue” which may take the form of one-sided conversations with young women or young men. He said having that conversation with adult men may be difficult because “No man is going to come into a church and listen to why this is wrong. If they are having sex with young girls, they know they are committing a crime.”
Rev. Conrad Tillard at Nazarene Congregational Church agrees that the pimping of little girls is a problem. “As a father of five children, one a daughter, I am very much concerned,” he said. “Obviously, this is an important issue in the African-American community.”
Rev. Tillard said, “I applaud the DA’s office for pulling together this initiative.” He encourages people to work with women’s groups, churches, and community organizations to “end the scourge of prostitution in our communities. This is a crime of exploitation. We have to educate men and women to the horrific crime they are committing.” Rev. Tillard is not playing. “Where education doesn’t work, they must be prosecuted. As Malcolm X said, ‘By any means necessary.'”
In response to indicted pimp Scooby’s favorite books (Pimpology by Pimpin’ Ken, “Pimp” by Iceberg Slim) and movies ( Pimp Chronicles and The Mack), Rev. Tillard gave a historical context. “In the late 1960’s, Blacks were just coming out of segregation. Iceberg Slim depicted the gritty side of life. Fast-forward. For today’s 12, 13, 14-year-olds, life today in no way resembles what Blacks went through during segregation,” Rev. Tillard said. “Yet we still pass this on to the next generations through culture – rap music and ghetto lit.” Rev. Tillard sees no reason why a 19-year-old with today’s opportunities would “still be talking about being a pimp.”
“We have to fight it culturally, legally, and in the pulpit,” said Rev. Tillard.
Anyone with information about someone who is being forced to work as a prostitute is asked to call the Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Unit Hotline at (718) 250-2770.