Feds: 13-Year-Old Girl Serially Raped in Dallas Hotel was Trafficked Over Prostitution Website
Federal authorities have announced that a 13-year-old girl who was serially raped at a Dallas, Tex. hotel was sex trafficked through CityXGuide, a popular digital hub for prostitution in the city.
CityXGuide was created, according to the Feds, to replace Backpage, which was shut down for facilitating prostitution. It went online one day after Backpage was closed and immediately filled the void for illicit networking.
The teen, who is referred to in the indictment as Jane Doe, was rescued by federal authorities in November 2019. The hotel provided security video that showed various men coming into the room at rapid succession to rape the young girl.
Doe claims that traffickers threatened to murder her if she told police about her abuse. A 34-year-old man has been taken into custody and charged with child sex trafficking, and faces 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also announced on Friday that they had shut down CityXGuide, and hit the page owner, Wilhan Martono, with a 28-count indictment. They allege that thousands like Doe have been exploited using his website. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox is leading the case.
“DOJ [the U.S. Department of Justice] didn’t stop with Backpage, and we’re not going to stop with CityXGuide,” Nealy Cox said to describe the work of the North Texas Trafficking Task Force.
“If you are going to facilitate exploitation online, we’re not going to hesitate to seize your site and bring charges against you,” she added.
Nealy Cox noted that victims like Doe couldn’t “be victimized if there’s not a pimp that recruits her and if he doesn’t have a good way to advertise her.” Websites like CityXGuide provide the platform needed for a this sort of criminal network to persist, the Feds claim.
Martono has been charged with 17 counts of money laundering, nine counts of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering, one count of promotion of prostitution and reckless disregard of sex trafficking, and one count of interstate racketeering conspiracy. He was apprehended in his Fremont, Calif. home last week.
“It’s just heartbreaking when you hear the story,” said Nealy Cox of the 13-year-old girl’s exploitation and realizing that she is just one of many “vulnerable victims that the bad guys hold and groom and use in this way.”
Nealy Cox hopes that the exploited will be able to receive compensation for the alleged abuse they have received as the cases are taken to court.
“I expect restitution to the victims will play out in a very interesting way in this [CityXGuide] case,” she noted.
Nealy Cox considers herself a crusader for the cause of stopping the victimization of young girls. She says to expect big things from her task force in busting up child sex trafficking and prostitution rings.
“We don’t intend to stop with CityXGuide,” she said. “We have to keep going after these cases that have big impact. That’s how we protect our community and protect that 13-year-old girl.”