A 13-year-old Miami runaway was forced to dance at an all nude Miami strip club for five days. Held against her will, not only did she dance at the strip club, she was also forced into prostitution by her captors; one of whom,was also employed as a dancer at the strip club as well. According to the police report, the teen was also forced to consume drugs and alcohol throughout the ordeal while being held hostage against her will.
CBS Miami reports:
City of Miami Police in conjunction with Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office arrested three people accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl to prostitute herself and dance in an exotic dance club.
According to police, Vilbert Jean,36, Marlene San Vincente, 22, and DeWayne Ward, 18 were arrested on January 6th.
The 13-year-old had runaway from her home on December 10th. Her mother located her on January 6th in the area of North Miami Avenue and NE 55 street.
Police said, while she was being held against her will, she had been forced to prostitute herself for the benefit of her alleged exploiters.
On one occasion she was forced to have sex with someone for $80.00, according to the arrest report.
[…] Between December 13 and January 4th, she was forced to dance as an exotic nude dancer at Club Madonna in Miami Beach when she refused to engage in prostitution. While dancing , police said she earned over $1,000 which she had to surrender to her alleged exploiters.
[…] San Vicente allegedly supervised and tutored her on how to work the nude club scene and how to maximize her tip earnings for the benefit of her alleged exploiters.
According to police, she was forced to have sex with Ward on more than six occasions.
The three also allegedly provided her with alcohol and large amounts of marijuana while she was under their control.
While being held captive, her alleged exploiters showed her an AK47 assault rifle and a 40 caliber handgun. She was also threatened with bodily harm if she tried to escape, according to the report.
No charges have been filed against the owner of the strip club, nor it’s management. According to the Miami Herald, however, the operation liscense of the strip club has been suspended for six months.
Richard Wolfe, an attorney for Club Madonna, called the city’s actions “overreaching.”
“We will prove that there was no basis for the city to take the actions that they took,” Wolfe said.
[…] Club owner Leroy Griffith and his attorney have said they had no knowledge that the girl performed at Madonna.
[…] Wolfe, the Madonna attorney, suggested that the city’s actions were retaliatory. Club owner Leroy Griffith has been locked in a decade-long battle with City Hall to overturn a ban on alcohol in fully nude clubs such as his.
Griffith has ruffled plenty of political feathers in his years of legal wrangling. He has claimed he was extorted by the city and accused one commissioner of not reporting his campaign contributions.
“They shut down our business in a vindictive manner,” Wolfe said.
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It’s important to remember that though the girl in this case was a runaway, she is still a victim. I say that because I know the ease with which it can be for some to reach for the low-hanging fruit that is victim blaming. Yes, it can be said that had she not ran away from home, none of this would have never happened. While this may be true, we’re still talking about a 13-year-old child who was exploited by adults for monetary gain. That said, in my opinion, anyone who blames this child for her demise is just as sick and morally bankrupt as the three people arrested for this crime — but hey, that’s just me. Yep, just simply being the line-stepper that I am, as usual.
Thankfully, Florida has what’s known as the Safe Harbor Act (pdf) to protect victims of sex trafficking. Especially since South Florida is listed as the third-busiest region for sex trafficking in the United States, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the following report from CNN, the majority of victims of sex trafficking were once sexually abused. As such, it’s a lot easier for victims to fall into the the nefarious web that is the underworld of sex trafficking. Bur again, this problem is a lot larger than the average person thinks.